I’m dripping with sweat as I maneuver through the crowded subway lugging my suitcase up and down stairs. I changed clothes so many times this morning that I’ve lost count of how many outfits were nixed. My problem? I have a lymphedema garment that reaches from toe to waist on my left leg and down my upper thigh on my right leg. It’s like wearing a personal heater in 90-degree weather. I’m heading to the Hamptons with friends for the 4th but my love for water, sun and sand begins to loose its appeal.

My usual casual summer clothes and flip-flops have gone unworn this summer. I tried to cheer myself up earlier with the purchase of a long skirt. But as I walk by store windows showcasing summer shorts, I become acutely aware of what I no longer enjoy.

I was surprised by my reaction when a friend used the word disability yesterday to describe my condition. I immediately wanted to prove just how able I still am. Instead I started a list of the impact cancer has had on me. Why? I have a tendency to minimize loss and practice superficial gratitude. The result is a watered down version of faith and a misunderstanding of biblical hope.

When I minimize my loss and subsequently my desires, I sadly mask my need for God and what only he can do. I reduce hope to shallow wishful thinking. But when I understand Faith as the remembrance of God’s rescue, there is tremendous possibility to be filled with an expectation for what God is yet to do.

When I recognize my condition and name it for what it really is, I’m agreeing with God that the impact of the fall is way more devastating than I care to admit. Lymphedema sucks. Minimizing this reality doesn’t lead to gratitude, only denial.

I have no idea what God may do with, through, or in spite of my faulty lymphatic system. But as I remember the many times God has come to my rescue in the past, my faith is strengthened knowing I will be cared for, protected and surprised by God in the present. In essence, that’s Hope.

It would be misleading if I give the impression that I have this figured out. I don’t. But I notice a subtle shift in my heart, one that allows me to wait in my current circumstance. One that wonders at what God might be doing.

Shari Thomas