Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  – Romans 12:12

Seven weeks ago our 13-year old son, Jackson, woke up not feeling well, and by afternoon developed a fever.  That fever, preceded by chills, would recur almost daily for the next 30 days. He also had extreme fatigue and knee pain flared. In three weeks, he lost 15 pounds.  By the third week of his illness, it was an effort for him to just sit up for a while.  Prior to this sudden onset of symptoms, Jackson had been strong, healthy and physically fit, attending summer football conditioning and being active at home.

Each week he was sent for blood tests, lab work, x-rays, and eventually a bone scan, as doctors tried to find the cause for Jackson’s illness.  At first it was said to be a virus that would probably last no more than two weeks, but as day 14 approached and symptoms continued, his illness became more of a concern, and a mystery to doctors.  By this time, we started hearing from friends offering their prayers. Some sent text messages, emails and even hand-written notes. Those messages and prayers were a source of comfort and encouragement.  Thank you, God, for bringing others alongside us.

My husband attended a pre-season football meeting.  Friends asked for updates on our son. After that meeting, Jackson received a text message from one of his 8th grade teammates saying he was on his way over to drop something off. His friend heard the concerns my husband shared with his mom and wanted to do something nice for our son.  Moments later, he appeared at our door with a smile on his face, holding a big box of hot Krispy Kreme donuts and a bag of Skittles – two of Jackson’s favorites. It was 8:30 p.m.  Instead of going home after the meeting, Jackson’s friend had gotten his mom to make a special trip to Krispy Kreme (which is 20-30 minutes from where we live), then drive to our house to make the special delivery. It was a gift to cheer Jackson up and help him gain back some weight.  What a sweet, thoughtful, and awesome thing to do!  That kind gesture cheered all of us up!  God had spoken to the heart of a 13-year old boy.  He responded and made a difference for all of us. God bless his mother for being a willing accomplice for this good deed.  🙂  (For the record, my husband and I did not eat any donuts or candy.  Those were all for Jackson!)

It was also during this time that Jackson’s older brother moved back to college and into his first apartment. Because of Jackson’s ongoing fevers and fatigue, it was unlikely that he and I would be able to help with the move.  Not only was this very disappointing, but it also worried me because my husband would be pulling a U-Haul trailer.  If Jackson and I couldn’t go, he’d be coming home alone at night, tired, pulling a trailer on curvy mountain roads.  The doctor said Jackson would have to be fever-free for two days prior to the move, or it would be best for the two of us to stay home. We asked friends to pray for this, and would you believe that Jackson’s fever broke two days prior to the move?  He even stayed fever-free on the day we moved his brother into the apartment.  The fevers resumed the day after the move, but we got three fever-free days in a row, just when we needed them!  Praise God for answering our prayers! Coming home with the trailer that night, the fog in the mountains was so thick that at times we couldn’t see the lines on the road.  It took both of us to see which way to turn on those curvy roads. Scary! I was so thankful my husband didn’t have to drive home by himself! God hadn’t just answered our prayers by making it possible for all of us to help our son move, but had also gone before us to make the way safe.

We were sad after our son went back to college, and we missed him.  Jackson never complained, but I’m sure he felt lonely. His dad or I stayed with him, but it’s not the same as having a brother or friend.  Then came the invitation from the mother of a friend asking if Jackson would like to get together with her son.  By this time Jackson’s fevers were subsiding, so he was able to go. It was so good for him to get out for a while and have fun with a friend.  Again, God knew our needs and others responded.

It was an interesting “coincidence” to hear from this family because we had run into them the day before Jackson’s fevers started.  The boys hung out while we parents talked.  I thought of them often while Jackson was sick because they inspire me.  They’ve been through a tough time, much more difficult than ours, and stayed strong in faith.  We had never run into them before.  I wondered if God had anything to do our happenstance meeting, perhaps knowing we were about to face a difficult time and putting them in our path (literally) to be a source of inspiration for us.

Jackson was sick with fevers for a month.  Because of his illness, he’s been unable to attend football practices.  He missed the first week of school, then attended only a couple of classes at a time until he was able to complete a full day.  In the fifth week of his illness, doctors diagnosed him with an autoinflammation disease.  He is still recovering, but makes remarkable improvements each week.  Last week he completed a full week of school, and today was able to go with the Middle School for their annual retreat.  This is amazing, for just two weeks ago he couldn’t get through a day of school without being set back.  God is good, and God is great, indeed.

The title of this post is “We Have This Hope.”  What is the hope?  As Christians, we not only have hope in Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and Savior; we also have the hope – confidence and assurance – that the Lord God is with us in our struggles.  The Bible promises that God knows our needs, goes before us, and answers our prayers. God showed these things to be true in the experiences we had while Jackson was sick.  We claimed the truth of Psalm 103:1-5, that God is to be praised because He benefits us in so many ways, forgiving our sins, healing our diseases, and restoring the strength of our youth.  We prayed for the healing hand of Jesus to be upon Jackson to make him well, and prayed for it to be God’s will for Jackson to be healthy and active again.  We prayed for God to lead doctors to the problems causing his illness, and He did! People we didn’t even know were praying for us when we were going through a time of uncertainty, worry and fear, wondering what was wrong with our son, how much worse would he get, and when would he get better.  Prayers gave us comfort, strength, and restored our hope.

Yes, we have this hope, that when we put our trust and faith in God, coming to Him through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, He will be with us, helping us through whatever comes our way (Deuteronomy 31:8). God will hear and answer our prayers (Psalm 34:4), tend to our needs even before we know what those needs will be (Isaiah 65:24), and will work through the hearts of others to give encouragement and make a difference in our circumstances.  He truly does tend to those whose hope is in Him (Lamentations 3:25).

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.  – Lamentations 3:25

It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave your or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.  – Deuteronomy 31:8

“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” – Isaiah 65:24

I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.  – Psalm 34:4

My prayer for you:  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13)

For more about HOPE, or to read these verses in their entire passages, go to http://www.BibleGateway.com.

God bless you.

Renee

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