September 22, 2022
Forced bed rest has never been high on my list of favorite activities.
If I needed any reminding of that fact, it came back to me when I read an e-mail from my friend Jennifer, a teenaged quadriplegic who is ventilator-dependent and has a nasty pressure sore.
The ulcer has gotten so deep that she can no longer sit up in her wheelchair. The doctor has assigned her to bed—for the next four months.
My heart goes out to Jen. When she was three years old, an improperly anchored swing set toppled over on her, paralyzing her instantly.
Over the years, Jennifer has struggled with ups and downs. But in this e-mail, she asked for my advice, knowing I’ve “been there” with stubborn pressure sores of my own.
“Jennifer,” I wrote back to her, “one of the things you must do is stay focused. Don’t let your mind wander into depression and boredom.
I have a secret that helps me: I choose a Bible verse and memorize it. In fact, during a recent four-week stint in bed, I picked Romans 12:12:
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Joyful in hope? It isn’t easy for Jennifer right now. She doesn’t want to be paralyzed … doesn’t want to be on a ventilator just to stay alive … and certainly doesn’t relish the idea of lying in bed for sixteen straight weeks.
Why is it so difficult to be joyful in hope? Because the focus of our hope is yet to be fulfilled. We don’t yet possess, or even see, that for which we hope.
When I was in bed for four weeks, it hit home that God wants me to be joyful about future things in spite of my present circumstances. The secret is embracing what lies just over the heavenly horizon: One day soon there will be no more pain, tears, or sorrow.
No more death, disease, or disability. Peace will flow, wide and deep as the Columbia River, joy will spring up like an artesian fountain, and we will reign with King Jesus forever.
Does the idea of the Lord’s return and heavenly glories put a smile on your face? Heaven will seem near and real as you stir up your joy over that in which you hope. Join me and my friend Jennifer today in staying focused.
Ask the Lord to stir a lively vision of heaven in your heart. Before long the joy of the Lord will overtake you. Just five minutes in heaven will suffice for all of earth’s hurts.
Jennifer’s four months in bed—in fact, her whole life of disability and paralysis—will melt away like a dream as light from an eternal morning streams into her window.
Take a good look at me, God, my God;
I want to look life in the eye,
So no enemy can get the best of me
or laugh when I fall on my face.
I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—
I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m singing at the top of my lungs,
I’m so full of answered prayers.
Psalm 13:3-6 (The Message)
But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.
Pray with me: Lord, if you want me to have joy growing out of real hope, and it takes a long, hard road to get there … then I know it’s for my own good, and that’s what I want too.
But you will have to help me, because when the pain comes, when boredom invades, when discouragement creeps into the room, I so often lose my focus.
Oh, Lord Jesus, lift my sight to the wonders of the home you have prepared for me … just around the corner, just over the horizon. Amen.
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