Too Fragile for Hope?
by Cynthia Ruchti
I scrubbed to my elbows with special soap, taking extra care with fingernails and knuckles—spots where microscopic germs could hide. I referred to the checklist above the sink in the entry to the NICU—the neonatal intensive care unit. I was ready to visit my newborn nephew.
The NICU nurses and doctors underscored how important it was for the baby to know he was loved and cared for by his parents. But Jacob’s father couldn’t do it. Because he chose not to visit his son in the hospital, I was given the privilege.
I slipped my arms into the cuffed gown one of the nurses held for me and then followed the nurse to my nephew’s isolette. He’d been born robust, the picture of health. But within hours, it became clear that his mother’s body had been sustaining his life in miraculous ways inside the womb. Once on his own, away from that protected environment, evidence showed all was not well inside his tiny body.
When Jacob was four days old, surgeons opened his weak body and did all they could to repair what was wrong inside.
They used terms like “cautiously optimistic.”
We held onto cast-iron Hope. And we lingered at the picture wall in the NICU—the photos of other babies who—despite their desperate conditions—survived.
Jacob came home from the hospital for the first time at four months old. But within 48 hours, he was back in the NICU with another complication.
This August, he will be thirty years old. After a failed kidney transplant and other multiple surgeries through three decades of vibrant but challenge-riddled life, he is now a loving husband and father, with no kidney but an abundance of dialysis, and awaiting a kidney transplant despite what some might consider nearly impossible antibody odds. Where does hope fit in that picture?
Where does hope fit when life doesn’t look like we thought it would? Shattered relationships. Shaky marriages. Frail health. Financial reversals. Unsettling news. Devastating revelations.
I drew from memories of those days with my newborn nephew for some of the scenes in my latest novel A Fragile Hope, and let the story ask questions about the depths and lengths to which love will journey. Is the hope God offers us truly fragile? Or do we only assume it is when everything falls apart around us?
God’s Word tells us that the hope He gives is an anchor for the soul. There’s nothing fragile about an anchor.
“When God wanted to further demonstrate to the heirs of the promise that his purpose doesn’t change, he guaranteed it with a solemn pledge. So these are two things that don’t change, because it’s impossible for God to lie. He did this so that we, who have taken refuge in him, can be encouraged to grasp the hope that is lying in front of us. This hope…is a safe and secure anchor for our whole being,” Hebrews 6:17-19 CEB.
A fragile condition is no match for cast-iron Hope like the kind God offers through Jesus Christ.
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