46. A God called Hope
It was 8am on the 1st January 2017. As the new year dawned, I was stirred into consciousness from a vividly clear dream. In it, the fingers of God wrote one simple name on a large white stone. The name was Zoe. Replaying the image, a conviction arose in my spirit. Nine days later I found out why. In juxtaposition with the subsequent diagnosis of stage 3 cancer, I found Zoe in the Greek means life; life in its fullest; abundant, eternal, filled with vitality and flowing over. Zoe is life as God has in Himself. The God kind of life. He’d sent me a message. A message of hope.
Now almost one year later, key treatments are complete and Doctor’s concur with the truth my God has declared; all now finally in alignment, ‘it is finished’. My heartfelt thanks go to the incredible talent, wisdom and patience of the medical teams I’ve been blessed with. Whilst I still have a handful of minor treatments to go, it’s a wonderful way to be walking into 2018.
The physical impact will pass; my body will be restored; the curly locks will grow back again and I’m sure I will add a few pounds on the scales. But there’s so much more than the healing that I walk away from this year with.
Firstly, thanks to my precious family and friends, I walk away having known such love, support and encouragement. From near and far, I’ve been overwhelmed by how you’ve partnered with me, month in month out. I know this took some of you to the edge of heartbreak and back. Thank you with all my being.
From a prayer perspective, so many of you stood in the gap. With a diagnosis so severe, who knows what things would look like now, had it not been for that faithful commitment. Thanks to those prayers, God’s empowering grace has covered me. So not only do I walk away healed, I also walk away whole. Reflecting back, there’s no psychological or emotional trauma and I no longer remember the pain. Instead what I remember is God’s overwhelming presence; the beauty, the power and the constant tangibility of it.
Whilst at times it’s been tough, from a spiritual perspective, there’s one thing I’ll remember the most. And it’s not the cancer. It’s who God proved himself to be – through the trial, not just at the end of it.
With the many twists and turns that have unfolded, my faith has been put through the furnace – was my God really going to be who I thought He was? Before the diagnosis, I thought I knew the answer to this question. In December 2016 I even finished the manuscript for a book that declared it. Twelve months on, now I know that I know it. And maybe this was the point. In the most unexpected way, I found myself living the book I wrote. Under the intensity of the biggest fight of my life, every word in it was tried and tested. And in the process, was proved to stand the heat. God knew it would. He needed me to know it too. From day one, my heart’s cry was for a greater good to come from it all. Now I know it has. Now I know it will.
I’m so thankful for that purpose. For it’s given me the privilege of experiencing God’s promises in vibrant abundance. Refined through the fire, I know His grace is sufficient in my weakness, I’ve experienced the joy of the Lord as my strength, I’ve received the peace that surpasses all understanding and not one promise returned void. With the frequent changes, critical crossroad decisions and periods of confusion along the way, living everything I believe has been challenged to the very core – through the process I’ve dug deeper than I ever knew was possible.
In and of myself I fell way short. But God was true, as time and again He exchanged my fear for faith, my pain for protection and my discouragement for determination. How was that possible? By pouring all He is into me; His steadfast nature, His rest, His courage and His endurance. Most of all, He poured His smile, His comfort, His love. And all of this set me free. Free from the crippling grip of the word we all know as cancer. Free to live the Zoe life He always intended - through-out the journey, not just now I’m coming to the end of it.
Thanks to all this I’m not finishing 2017 crawling over the finish line. Older, wiser and greyer(!), I’m relishing what 2018 will bring. Despite the circumstances and hiccups along the way, this truly has been the abundant Zoe life God gave me the hope of on New Years Day. Through-out it all, God has been everything I’d ever dared to believe He was… and more besides... Every promise, every hope and every word He’s ever said is true.
Who is this merciful, sovereign and faithful God of mine? He is the God of hope. His name is Emmanuel.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.
Romans 15:13 AMP