Most twenty-somethings are eagerly focused on climbing the career ladder, getting married, having children, traveling around the world, enjoying entertainment and adventure, and planning out their general direction in life. When I was younger, I had big goals too. They included being a cardiothoracic surgeon and then shifted to pursuing figure skating and nursing in college, and for years my Pinterest account has been stuffed with wedding day ideas, romantic quotes, travel locations, and bucket lists of adventures ideas like kayaking in Alaska with orca whales. But more and more every day, I have drifted further away from these earthly desires and focused on my deepest eternal desire to “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” as David prayed in Psalm 27:4. I crave Heaven, and I am restless living here on earth. One of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, summed up my internal restlessness well, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” That world is Heaven, where we can dwell forever with our Creator and Savior. We were not made for this broken, sin-filled, pain ridden world.
Many people may find it odd that a 26-year-old is so eagerly anticipating Heaven, but I’ve experienced the reality of death and suffering much more than the average 26-year-old. My citizenship is with Christ in Heaven, and I thank the Lord Jesus for His promises of a hope fulfilled to live in eternity with Him, never separated from His love and glorious presence, and forever reunited with our fellow believers.
I was born with a terminal, genetic disease called cystic fibrosis that destroys mainly the respiratory and digestive systems, but can also cause heart difficulties, chronic pain, diabetes, osteoporosis, infertility, and life-threatening infections. This disease has wrecked many of my organs, destroyed dreams, and subjected me to countless hours of treatments and medications. Sickness and death are not foreign experiences to me. I’ve endured countless grueling surgeries and procedures, frustration at the lack of continued treatment options, sobbed from physical pain and discomfort, been sick from medication side effects, mourned vanished dreams, and experienced far too many lonely nights in the hospital writhing in pain. I’ve lost many friends to CF, including my closest CF friend. I’ve held the hand of a dear friend for eight hours before he passed away from cancer at age 18 and attended his funeral on my birthday. I’ve run into a distraught flight for life paramedic during my late-night hospital hall wanderings who fought back tears as he timidly asked if he could hug my service dog because he had just lost a patient. I’ve heard more “code blue” alerts from my hospital room than I can count, while struggling myself to breathe. I’ve watched families huddle in the ER waiting for a glimmer of hope while I wait for a glimmer of hope from my own ER room. I’ve heard couples angrily yelling at doctors trying to get answers while I am furiously typing emails to my doctors begging for more relief. I’ve been so horribly depressed from life’s pain that I can’t even get out of bed as I seem to drown in my own tears. In these moments of utter wreckage in my own life and in the lives of others, it seems all I can do is pray. But prayer is only a start to the healing process God has in store. It’s my responsibility to run back to Christ as my refuge and present help in trouble.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling." ~ Psalm 46:1-3 (ESV)
“How do you do it? How are you even capable of still smiling?” Hospital staff and friends frequently want to know. I passionately hate finding myself in the environment of such deep brokenness and pain. There are many days where I feel I can’t do it anymore. Nevertheless, I love getting asked these questions because they kick the door wide open for me to share the reason for my hope. And these questions help me to remind myself of this truth and that I can trust God’s word. I often hang Bible verses on my hospital room walls and keep worship music playing to encourage hospital staff as they file in and out of my room. I chat with fellow patients about my reason for still being able to smile. I write a blog and pen poetry in hopes it may lift someone’s eyes and heart to the eyes and heart of our Savior. Every time I get to encourage someone with the hope of Heaven, I myself am encouraged. My ability to smile is not found in glimpses of happiness stemming from earthly pleasures but is rooted in the joy of believing the promises of my God to “wipe every tear from their eyes.” I am reminded that, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” and I am given strength to take one more step forward in the life God has placed in front of me, no matter how difficult and painful.
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” ~ Revelation 21:4 (ESV)
People have been seeking the cure to the ailments of life for centuries, but the cure will never be found here. Earthly pleasures are false relief, futile, and short-lived. True hope is found in Christ’s promises of salvation and full restoration is found in the fulfillment of dwelling with Him in an uncursed world…the new Heaven and new earth. With whatever time on earth I am granted, I can spread hope. What good is hope if we selfishly keep it to ourselves? God puts people in our paths who are broken, in pain, have no hope, and are withering away in their troubles. Who in your life can you connect with on a heart level and help guide to God’s forgiving grace, steadfast love, and unfailing promises of making all things new, forever healing what is broken, and restoring us to His presence in Heaven?
This devotional was written based off a sermon from LIFE Fellowship Charlotte by Pastor Ben Rudolph.
I encourage you to listen to the sermon here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LH-E38aN58