Fueled by Hope

Jan Antonsson


The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

September 4, 2015

Neosho, MO

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13).

It has been observed that people generally fall into two categories regarding their attitude toward life: 1) the glass is half empty (pessimists), and 2) the glass is half full (optimists).  For the most part, I fall into the latter category, except when things get dicey and then, sometimes, I go down for the count, as they say.  This is especially true concerning my health.  Abounding in hope gets more difficult in life crises, but that’s where Christ shines in His relationship with us and in us.

Paul said of Abraham, “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, “So shall your descendants be” (Rom. 4:18).  If anyone knew the power of hoping in God, it was Abraham.   A friend suggested to me recently that I may need to lower my expectations (hopes) where miracles of health and healing are concerned, because after all, there were no hospitals in Galilee during Jesus’ tenure as their resident healer.  That poked a hole in my balloon for a bit, but God rallied me out of my slump by reminding me of the various times He has healed my body.  I have no problem lowering my expectations.  It’s raising them in times of trial that gives me grief.

Without going into the gory details, just let me say that this has been a painful, miserable spring and summer for me until just recently. I finally acknowledged that without a miracle, I probably needed a hysterectomy.  No big deal, you say?  For me it was because of several factors, not the least of which is that I have no one to pick up the pieces after the operation. (My kitties haven’t yet learned how to open a can of cat food).  Generally speaking, I don’t want to be a burden to anyone, and rarely ask for help if I can do it myself.  Yes, yes I know, that smacks of pride, and I have repented of it already.

I prayed and my daughter and other family and friends, fervently prayed that God would take care of this problem without need for surgery, but as time rolled painfully on, and the situation was getting worse, not better, it gripped me that surgery might be yet another cactus patch that I would have to traverse before getting the victory on the other side.  I have said to others and to myself that the only way out of the pain is through the pain.  Somewhere in there, I realized that I had abandoned hope in God’s power to heal me.  Romans 8:11, has long been a source of great comfort, strength and power for me: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.” Paul is clearly talking about flesh in the here and now, rather than spirit in the bye and bye.

Part of my angst about this came from the fact that Lenny believed with all his heart and soul that he would not die, but would be changed in the twinkling of an eye into his glorified body so that he could minister life to others here on earth.  When I told the haughty renal specialist who was consulting on his care, that Lenny didn’t believe he would die, she looked down her nose at me and said derisively, “Surely you can’t believe that.  Everyone knows that we all die.”  I also gave a similar speech to the attending physician in the ICU, who asked me everyday if I didn’t want to pull the plug and let him go. I finally said to him in exasperation, “If I pull the plug and he dies, it’s on you.  If we leave him hooked up and he dies, it’s on God.  Which do you prefer?”  He said not a word but slunk away.

There was no victory in that for me because at the end, Lenny was more on the other side than this one.  It came to me softly that God didn’t need for him to be hooked up to a machine in order to heal him.  After all, he raised Lazarus from the dead.  So, I told them to take him off the machines which were losing the battle to keep him breathing.  Unlike Lazarus, Lenny died in the flesh immediately.

I didn’t realize until this crisis came for me about having surgery, how Lenny’s death had caused my expectations that God would heal me, to plummet.  Once He showed it to me, I quickly told the Lord that I knew He would be with me through the surgery, but I also knew that He could take care of the problem without surgery if that was His will for me.  As always in situations like this for myself and for my friends and family, the end of the prayer is, “Thy will be done.”

Paul had a lot to say about suffering, and this passage in Romans 5:3-5, struck me and filled me with hope in His faith, not in mine: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (RSV). Let me be clear, that I have not achieved the lofty pinnacle of rejoicing in suffering, but I do see that suffering produces endurance, which builds character and HIS hope NEVER disappoints us.  Again, that’s because of God’s plan for us from before the foundation of the world, not based on anything we may have done or not done.  We hope for what we cannot see, as Paul said in another verse, but God sees everything from the end to the beginning (Isa. 46:10), from the alpha to the omega. Therefore He does not need to hope for us because He knows what He is going to do with us and through us, and exactly how the end result will be for our good and His glory.

And so it happened like that when I had my appointment with the OB/GYN.  He concluded that a hysterectomy would not help me, and suggested a non surgical alternative which has solved the problem.  I am giving you no details lest I offend someone’s sensibilities, but suffice it to say, I am feeling more like my old self than I have in a very long time. Whether this is human nature in general or just my family in particular, we tend to get to the “dark place, the worst possible scenario” very quickly when confronted with adverse circumstances.  That would be, I suppose, a defense mechanism of lowering our expectations to such a degree that we won’t be surprised or blindsided when the worst happens.  It’s no way for a follower of Christ to live!

Being fueled by hope in His faith and confidence in His unlimited power feels so much better.  And while I’m on the subject, it also does not pay to think that because He didn’t heal someone you love, that He doesn’t plan to heal you either.  He has a plan for each of us, written before time began, and no one will stand in His way. 

This is why the great and precious promises in the Bible are so empowering and hope generating for me, no matter what it looks like: “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard” (Isaiah 58:8).  With Jeremiah, we cry, “O earth, O earth, O earth!  Listen to the word of the Lord” (22:29, Catholic Public Domain Version). And we rejoice in Joel’s proclamation:  “And the Lord will roar from Zion and utter his voice from Jerusalem.  And the Lord will be the hope of his people and the strength of the sons of Israel” (3:16, Catholic Public Domain Version). And finally, the Hebrew writer assures us, “I will never, never let go your hand: I will never, never forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, Weymouth).

Father, in Christ, you have called us from before the foundation of the world; you have chosen us to be ambassadors for Christ, entrusting us with the message of reconciliation. Flow through us, Father, that others may draw near to your light and experience your unconditional love and eternal hope. With all the saints who surround your throne, we shout, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”  So say we all.  Amen.  Jan Antonsson

Jan Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)

Our writings from 1997-2010 are on

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