Surely You Will See the Wasteland Bloom

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Hope_MichaelaWhen the searing pain of grief makes a home in your heart, it tells you to push Truth away. The darkness calls you abandoned.

How can this be? How could a God…why would a good God…?

The questions come out in hoarse screams in the night, when your fists pound and clench, tight and hard. You feel too weak to fight against the corrodible nature of fear and anger.

Sometimes it feels good to sit here, and make misery your bedfellow. It feels good to cry and hiccup. I have lingered in this place of crumpled sheets and wet pillowcases, where hope is deferred and everything is an impossibility. It never felt good. I told my broken heart that it was dangerous to have hope when grief was beckoning. I silenced Bravery, and stood with fear.

I felt that my hope no longer had a name, my hope felt weak and incapable. I wanted to spit the words at Him.

Unbeknownst to me, in the still and dark of every night, He let the dawn stretch forth, faithfully and with purpose. The early light of day peered through the single pane windows and my house hummed to life. The world moved on and on, alive and rolling.

Life clings, even in the barren places, the hungry places where we feel heartsick, homesick, bone tired.

Hope can be deferred, but Hope is not dead.

Lazarus and Sarah sang it to anyone who would listen. This is what Hope did for me, even when I was barren, even when I sank into death.

Think of the miraculous conception of a child, after years of trying and failing. There’s a yelp of disbelief when you discover your blood is doubling to feed a tiny human, deep within the dark of your body.

Hope, for new life, when the womb declares your walls barren, is nearly impossible to hold onto. When silence fills that room and the ultrasound image sighs long and still before you, you feel close to crumbling. Something tells you to hold on, even when it hurts. Months and years of letdown, and then, two pink lines, and life clings. A desire fulfilled, and the tree of life blooms. (Proverbs 13:12)

Think of the throbbing veins as they receive the chemical concoction of chemotherapy just one more time. The pricks and face masks and long hospital stays make a spirit worn.

Hope, for new life, when the body made to thrive starts to shut down and wear thin, is nearly impossible to cling to. Still, you hold fast, anchored to the rhythm of grace, while the wasteland seems prairie flat, endless. Months and years of heartache and pain, and then, color comes back and hair regrows. Freedom sinks it’s teeth into the holy ache where death hovered.

Even when treatments fail and babies never come, when death devours, hope might only come in the stillness, when it hurts. The push through a chronic illness, a funeral, a job loss, an addiction, it is never easy, and no “have faith” and “keep strong” cheers will help.

But, this is where true hope comes alive, in the murky depths and the gray of depression. I never knew what hope was until I found myself in with the stones at the bottom of the well. It took time for hope to grow, but in the drafty, damp places, hope was cultivated, fertilized by salt tears and the prayers of those holding me up.

Hope hollers in the fallow places, bangs around in that worn heart of yours. It is chained to you, come heavy winds and waves.

You will not sink.

In hunger and the waiting, we are the blessed ones. This is what He sings over us! He calls us by name: poor in spirit, mourner, meek one, justice seeker, you are blessed. Blessed to receive, taste, see, experience hope.

Hope came and laid His body on the slivered wood, nailed your wails for justice into His palms. Our questions came in a raging storm, the hate and the ache, the desperation of a world groaning for redemption, every piece settled upon Him.

The broken things crowned His head, the weight of the world pressed the thorns into flesh. As the hot blood dripped to the dust, Hope said: it is finished.

I will restore to you double, I will rebuild the broken heart, repair the tattered wings, cover the grave with the warmth of my love.

Hope is made real when we ache, and if hope is made real, then the source of this hope is made real. We may feel like we are losing the battle, but the war has already been won. He will return the missing pieces, patch the gashed wounds.

He will restore.

This is his promise.

“Return to your place of comfort and safety, where your heart is secure, O prisoners of hope. I announce today that I, the Lord, will restore to you twice as much as what was taken.” – Zechariah 9:12

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Michaela Evanow
I’m a wife and semi-crunchy mama of a girl and boy. After doulaing in Vancouver, I became a medical mama when my daughter, Florence Marigold, was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy—a muscle wasting disease. I have a nomadic heart, though I haven't left our home in years. I adore Eastern Europe, India, thrifting, coffee with cream + honey and global maternal healthcare. I write about the messy, salty glory of mothering a terminally ill child and finding the goodness of God in grief at MichaelaEvanow.com
Michaela Evanow
Michaela Evanow

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Michaela Evanow
  • makeda

    Michaela these words are so beautiful. Hauntingly powerful. Hope can be so hard to hold onto when we are in the pit of despair. But your words today remind me that Hope came and because He did, hope will rise in me again. Thank you for your words this morning. I needed to read them. Blessings to you.

    • “Because He did…hope will rise in me again.” Yes! That’s right. Thank you Makeda. Thanks for sharing a part of your hope journey with me. xo

  • abby

    “Hope hollers in the fallow places, bangs around in that worn heart of yours. It is chained to you, come heavy winds and waves.”
    So true, and so hard to accept. Bit really all that keeps us alive, that we are chained to hope.

    • He never leaves us. It’s hard to see it though when you’re in the thick of it, isn’t it?

  • HBurns

    Your words ‘I never knew what hope was until I found myself in with the stones at the bottom of the well. It took time for hope to grow, but in the drafty, damp places, hope was cultivated, fertilized by salt tears and the prayers of those holding me up.’ cause faith & hope to rise. Thank you for sharing your raw and tender words with us. They are a treasure.

    Standing with you, holding you up.

    Helen xo

    • Helen, thank you for these words and for carrying your prayers of hope to Jesus so faithfully. xo

  • Laura Shook

    I found this to be true as I went through cancer treatment. My mantra became “My anchor holds.” God proved faithful again and again, bringing hope and restoring health. But what I discovered along the way is that my anchor would hold no matter the outcome because He is always faithful. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Thank you for sharing this with me Laura. I’m so glad to hear you have health and hope!

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  • cjdeboer

    I’m speechless, Michaela – such breathtaking beauty and wisdom in your words. THANK YOU! xoxo

  • Anne-Marie

    “I will restore to you double, I will rebuild the broken heart, repair the tattered wings, cover the grave with the warmth of my love.” So lovely. We are slowly emerging, finding our feet in a place of less intense threat and struggle, though nothing sure yet. Your words forged with tears are a balm, and so lovely. Thank you Michaela.

    • Oh Anne-Marie, I love how you say it: …words forged with tears are a balm…
      Thank you. xo

  • O, Michaela!

    1. You are an incredible writer/poet. The only thing that could make this post better is an audio recording of you reading out these powerful words. So so powerful.
    2. The deep wisdom you have gained through life experience is so evident in your writing. You are wise beyond your years, beautiful girl.
    3. You inspire me in more ways than you know.

    Can’t wait to hug you in person soon!

    xoxo,
    Teen

    • Oh Teen, I can’t wait to meet YOU! Thank you. You truly honour me with your words, my friend. xo

  • This is so stunning, Michaela.

    I was reading in Desmond Tutu’s book “God has a Dream” yesterday and this came to mind when I was reading your post:

    “In God’s universe, while we are not free to choose whether we suffer, we are free to choose whether it will ennoble us or instead embitter us.”

    The pain you have experienced in your young life has certainly ennobled you, dear one. You can speak of depths, because you have been there. You live it. And you dare to hope.

    Thank you for being here and sharing your beautiful heart.

    Much LOVE,
    xoxox

    • I love that quote. It’s so empowering! Thank you for your relentless words of love and encouragement!

  • Lori Tintes Hartmann

    It was not an accident that I found my way here tonight reading your words. I needed this in more ways than I could find words to express. Thank you.

  • Bev Murrill

    My Gosh! What a sentence!

    Hope came and laid His body on the slivered wood, nailed your wails for justice into His palms.

    Stunningly beautiful and achingly real.

  • Daniela

    This is just so beautiful friend. Yes, wise beyond your years. xo

  • Megan Gahan

    I love getting lost in your words my dear. I just want to curl up and stay awhile. Thank you for lending your voice and eloquence to the oh-so-difficult-to-express aches of this life. It’s desperately needed.

    • Megan, yes, thank you. I am so glad I have space here, and can make space for others that go through pain and suffering too. xo

  • Oh, all of this. Thank you, Michaela, a very, very needed reminder. “Hope is made real when we ache, and if hope is made real, then the source of this hope is made real.”

    • Jana, I’m so glad to hear this. I appreciate your words.

  • Nicole A. Joshua

    Just what I needed to hear as I move through a season of grieving a barren womb. Thank you Micaela. I will hold on to these words, “Even when treatments fail and babies never come, when death devours, hope might only come in the stillness, when it hurts.”

    • Oh Nicole, thank you for sharing. I grieve with you over this news. May Hope arise in and through you. xo

    • Amy Hunt

      I am right there with you, Nicole; in my own very familiar ache and pain. Lifting you up, sister. Lifting us both up; that we would pursue hope and choose to be patient as we trust.

      • Nicole A. Joshua

        Thank you Amy.

  • Amy Hunt

    “But, this is where true hope comes alive, in the murky depths and the gray of depression […] Hope is made real when we ache, and if hope is made real, then the source of this hope is made real.”

    I’m thinking about this today, Michaela. About how much I just want the ache to go away, and yet how it keeps me so close to Him . . . and how mad I am at how cruel He sometimes seems. But what you say is life through truth. And yes to life.

    • I want it the ache to go away too, for you and for me. I don’t understand it, but I know it’s a season and will not linger forever. Yes to life, I’m holding on with you Amy.

  • Jennifer Gorman

    I have been struggling and hurting so long, but your words are so true, Hope, God has always, always been there to meet me. My autistic son is almost 17, I have been sick with a rare autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia and diabetes and their complications for 16 of those years, so I had to stop working.Now I can barely walk, and something is taking away my short term memory. My husband struggles to keep us fed and a roof over our head and to buy the medicines that keep my son and myself alive. My son and my husband have seriously struggled with their relationship for years, and there has been so much anger and pain between them that if I didn’t have faith and hope I would never be able to see how it could be healed and people don’t see why I don’t leave my marriage because of it. But I am there to also witness their love and healing that also comes with each new day. But the sheer fact that at the end of the day we are still together, we are still in our house, we still love each other, and no disaster has happened yet is proof of God’s enduring love for us. Jesus says not to worry about tomorrow, that today has enough troubles of it’s own, and this has been proven time and time again in my life. All I can do is take each hour on its own at this point, try to get through the physical and emotional pain and fear, and keep my heart focused on my family and on Jesus. Right now that has to be enough, and God is continually whispering to me that He sees me, He sees the pain, and He is right here. And that is more, so much more than enough.

    • Amen Jennifer. Believing for breakthrough for you and your family. Thank you for sharing with me.

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  • Cathy Merkel

    Like you, I have journeyed beside Sarah, along with Hannah, next to Lazarus. Thank you for articulating well the cost of the Hope that was purchased for us at so high a price, and given to us so freely!

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