Gripping Hopeful Perseverance

Yesterday, I found myself persevering. My walk around the lagoon was longer than anticipated. A short cut through Alligator Marsh was not an option. Two and a half hours later, the circle was completed with a sense of accomplishment.

Life has felt a little like that walk around the lagoon. Discouragement, disappointment, and doubt lurk under the surface, waiting to snatch any measure of peace. Depression presses in despite a daily fight against its tide.

Recently I found myself in a rural ER, 1,100 miles from home, with a vision disturbance. Hours later, I entered a large metropolitan hospital where the ER waiting room was transformed into triage. COVID-positive tests were confirmed within six feet. Lots of them. During hours of waiting, fear loomed. Was my sight in jeopardy? Would genetics set the course? Was this the first step in a slow descent into macular degeneration?

Hours later, I was diagnosed with vitreous detachment, and for the moment, I felt relief from fear. Rather than loss of vision, I’d gained a view of black scribbly lines. These ‘spider webs’ are the new normal for my left eye. I can see. Hope saved the day.

That urban ER experience was insightful--crowded rooms, hurting people, tired staff, makeshift partitions: privacy reduced to a curtain. Weary nurses were in constant motion, polite to their colleagues and patients. They joked where possible, teased the EMS staff, and tried to make their patients smile. Though the curtain limited my sight, my ears heard compassion.

Experiencing the ER COVID-style required patience—normally not my strong point. However, I persevered with hope—hope that I’d eventually be cared for. Hope that my vision would not be lost.

Without hope, what does perseverance offer? To persevere without hope seems pointless. Why keep on trying? Hope changes everything. Hope gives sight to change, to better circumstances, to disappointments transformed to joy, or at least in the direction of peace.

My “word” for this year is hopeful perseverance based on Romans 15:13 (NIV): “ 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.” When God fills us with hope, hope gains a grip, faith finds feet, and perseverance has purpose. The desire for hope is great; the need to persevere real.

Combined hope and perseverance are God’s sustaining gifts, allowing me to press on against discouragement, disappointment, and doubt. The walk around life’s lagoon is ongoing—I hope to keep walking until I’ve come full circle.   

Cathy Walker is Senior Associate Editor of the Journal of Christian Nursing and a mom of two grown kids. She edits from her home in Wisconsin. You will often find her walking with her dog, Tanner. These walks are refreshing for body and soul.

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