That time had come again: another PET scan to assess the status of my husband’s cancer. In the span of a month, between the two of us, we had covered most radiological studies between his CT scan and PET scan, and my X-rays and MRI. I was scheduled for surgery the next day, with the unfortunate promise from the doctor that this would not offer a cure, but rather, only temporary relief, and it might not even help at all. Only time would tell.
This was not what I had envisioned for either of us.
Over the holiday season, we expected to joyfully participate in all the seasonal traditions and festivities. In my mind I pictured a Norman Rockwall painting with the perfect tree, perfectly wrapped presents, perfectly set and executed holiday meal. Nowhere in that picture was there doctor’s appointments, scans, physical therapy, surgery, or rehab. In fact, if I’m being honest, nowhere in that imagined painting did I picture pain, physical or otherwise.
If it were not for God’s promises, I don’t know how we would have made it through this year. Or would many of my friends, for that matter.
I know so many who are not experiencing the Norman Rockwall perfect holidays: some are walking through grief after the loss of a loved one. Some are caring for ill family members. Some are managing family discord and broken relationships. Some cannot be with family this holiday season because of time, distance, and even more devastating conditions like incarceration. Some are wondering where the finances will come from to enjoy any semblance of the holiday spirit.
Yet there is something about this time of year that lends hope in the midst of the darkness.
Perhaps it’s the return of my son, home from college for the holidays. But I’ve been thinking a great deal about Mary and what her experience must’ve been like. She didn’t experience that picture perfect setting either. She rode on a donkey to go pay their taxes while she was pregnant with Jesus. When she went into labor, no one would offer her a room until an inn-keeper took pity on her and offered for her to stay in his stable—the filthiest place you could think of to have a baby. Yet Scripture says she found favor with God.
“The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)
This gives me so much encouragement because as Christ followers, we are ALL highly favored, and the Lord is with us ALL. It doesn’t matter what our circumstance is—God is with us in it.
I found Mary to be so relatable because, like many of us, Mary experienced some anxiety when the angel approached her:
“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” (Luke 1:29)
Yet next we read that like us, she had no reason to fear.
“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid Mary; you have found favor with God.’” (Luke 1:30)
That is such comfort to my heart as well because since all of us Christ followers have found favor with God, we don’t need to be afraid despite what our circumstances look like.
Mary was assured that she didn’t face her trials alone:
“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Luke 1:30)
The same Holy Spirit dwells within each of us, and His power will overshadow us as well. We can trust Him to manage whatever we face, in His power.
The angel also assured Mary that she was blessed because of her faith in God:
“Blessed is she who has believed that God would fulfill His promises to her.” (Luke 1:45)
We, too, can experience that same blessing if we believe that God’s promises to us are true. That’s what enables us to look at our difficult circumstances, yet maintain our hope.
God is faithful. That is never the question. The bigger question is will we trust Him?
As I face my own hurdles in life, and as I pray for my friends who are experiencing their own trials, I remain confident in the goodness of the Lord and believe that I will not be disappointed because God will fulfill His promises.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Are you or is someone you love experiencing depression? This book offers tangible help, hope, and healing from someone who’s been there and has come out on the other side.
In this Bible study companion to Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression, Dr. Bengtson, a neuropsychologist with over 25 years of experience, shares both her clinical expertise and her own personal journey through depression.
Dr. Bengtson’s personal experience is interwoven with questions for reflection, key thoughts, music playlist suggestions, resources, plus a leader’s guide.
This Bible study can be used as a companion to Hope Prevails or independent study by an individual or is perfect in a small or larger group study. Useful for churches and counseling practices.
“Authentic connections, raw insights, and powerful truths. A great resource for individuals that would be highly beneficial to both church and counseling groups.” ~ Pastor Debbie Kitterman, Founder, Dare 2 Hear Ministry