Sometimes, when I look at how hard I have struggled to only advance a step or two, I start to feel rather discouraged. As I look around me and see how far those who have put forth half the struggle, who barely gave 50 percent of their effort while I pushed my pain ridden body until it could not take another step, yet they are the ones with a comfortable home, family, and a job. And for all my persistence, my determination to give 100 percent so that I might reach my goal, I have nothing to show except a few bruises and an AA degree that can open no doors.
When I look at window and watch the cars go by, and think of all the dreams that will never be, of the family that I longed for, but will never know, and the country home that will never be mine, I must admit that for a moment or two, my heart drops, and hope seems so far away. As I look at my long list of failed dreams, and the success of others, I have to struggle to keep back the tears.
Why are others allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and although I give my all, every attempt seems to end in utter failure? Why are my dreams always denied? Why cannot I find love? Why am I not allowed to have my own home and family? Why am I not allowed to have any real hope? Or is that the case?
As my broken heart looks upon the tattered remnants of my dearest earthly dreams, I am gently reminded to look up. To look up toward heaven and by faith behold the true hope. The hope that is free of sorrow and disappointment. The hope that is free of pain, suffering, want, and any taint of sin. To look up and by faith behold the wonderful day when sin will come to an end and as promised all my years of emptiness will, in one moment, be swallowed up, and transformed into an eternity of unending possibilities.
Hope, it is something that we all desperately need to keep us going. With a good dose of hope, we would not have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Because it is hope that that cheers us up when everything around us seems glum and impossible.
It is hope that takes hold of the strong arms of trust and faith to keep our heads above the billowing waves. When discouragement seeks to suffocate us and build such a high wall that we will never be able to enjoy another ray of sunlight again, it is hope that points us to the great promises of God and reminds us of the importance of trusting in things that though yet unseen, will one day become a wondrous reality.
Like a vitalizing tonic, hope has the power to revive the nearly dead soul. Bringing it back from the brink of lifelessness into a vibrant and purpose driven life.
Some days, when the pain is mild and my energy is surprisingly high, it is easy to get out of bed and face the changes of an increasingly strange and hectic world. But some days, when sorrow and pain blend together, when trial and heartache haunt my door, it is tempting to curl up in a ball of agony and let the stress of this world gain control.
But on those days there is one hope, one blessed beacon of promise that keeps me afloat, and that is the promise that He is coming. That in spite of today’s spiking heartaches and fears, there is a reason to get out of bed and smile. That even though my dreams may lay in crumbled heaps around me, even though chronic sickness has robbed me of many a joy, I still have a reason to lift up my head and sing songs of praise.
Because today with all of its trials and hardships is not the end. This world full of crime, hate, sickness, and death is not the fruition of my hopes. Like Abraham, Issac, and Jacob I am just a pilgrim in search of a better land. But unlike them, my story is not set at the beginning, but at the end. Instead of thousands of more years, this world is lucky to have a dozen years. And by the way things are changing, and it seems like we are descending into madness, often wonder if we will even see the next decade.
Is it just me, or should the saying it never rains, but is pours should be changed to it never rains but it hurricanes. Because that is the way that it feels like right now. First it was a string of severe health set backs, and before I could catch my breath, it was six painful losses, one right after another.
Now, when it seemed like I might have time to catch my breath and finally begin to grieve, the bad news hits that it looks like my little puppy is following my Father’s footsteps. His sugar is high and his liver and kidneys are not doing so good. They are beginning to fail him. He has lost 8 or 9 pounds and that is a lot for a 28 pound little dog.
We have gotten the medicine and started treatment. Right now there may be hope, at least we hope that there is some hope. But it is too early to tell. For the next few weeks it will be a waiting game to see how Happy responds to the treatment.
During times like these it is so easy to get discouraged. To feel like all hope is lost and that joy is forever dead. Knocked down and tested to the point of breaking it seems like tears and sorrow are your undesired lot. In moments like these, where the pains and sorrows of life press down upon the heart seeking take away one’s breath, it is easy to forget that the pains of this life are for a moment. To forget that there is hope, because one day soon, sin will become a distant memory.
In the hour of darkness it may seem like sin is wining. That it is quickly going about swallowing up hope and happiness. But the good news is that the hour is quickly approaching when the tables will turn. Sin and its cruel companions, want, hunger, pain, sickness, and death, will be swallowed up. Truth, justice, hope, mercy, grace, and life everlasting will win the day.
Right now the enemy of soul’s is angry. He sees that his time is short, and like a roaring lion he is going about trying to turn the eyes of all from their only hope. He is trying to crush the hearts of men and keep them from looking up and through the eye of faith beholding the approaching promise of the great day of salvation.
He sees that final battle is getting ready to begin. He knows that it will not be long before the last decisions will be made, before the last heart will take their stand for or against God. And then the final crisis will begin, and just when it seems like he has gotten the victory, Jesus will appear and fill the heaven’s with His great glory.
Oh right now it is so easy to lose sight of that wonderful day. The pain and fears of this life seem like they are going to swallow us up, and there is no reason to smile anymore. But it is at this very moment that we need to look up. We need to look up with the eye of faith and behold the promised day of salvation. Because when we do our burdens will be lifted and our pain eased. Yes, the tears will flow and the heart will ache, but even in this fearful hour peace can and will fill our hearts as we set our sights not upon the darkness of the tomb, not upon the fearful uncertain of sickness and want, but upon the glorious day when this world will pass away and Heaven with its wondrous, unspoiled, and unfading glorious will be our home.
Only three months into the new year and 2019 has proved to be a hard year of trial and change.2018 had ended with an ominous tone as the last few weeks of the year saw me lose SSI as well as Medicaid, just as an injury put me in a wheel chair and I was hit by two infections in one month. The stress and fear was intense for me and my family as for the first time in years, we started the new year with the intense worry about how we would pay our bills and the fear of my living life as a chronic invalid with no medical care.
But those fears were quickly put on the back burner as one family member after another was hit by health issues. With one member being transferred from an assisted living facility to a nursing home due to a fall only weeks after moving in, meanwhile another was going blind. Before we could even process that news we learned that another relative was in need of surgery and had been unable to work for weeks due to a major infection that had required a pick line to be inserted so he could give himself antibiotics 3 times a day. At the same time we learned that one of my young cousins, barely in her twenties, was at times having to use a wheelchair due thanks to several health issues including Lyme disease. But worse of all, even though none of us wanted to say it, it was becoming clear that my Grandmother’s health was slipping and that her days are in the process of drawing to a close.
Everywhere I turned it seemed like the health and independence of those I love was under attack. And my heart ached as I thought of how quickly life could change. And what a season of change it was as on top of everyone being hit by a sever case of bronchitis that put my Mother in the hospital for a week, we received the news that my sister was now a diabetic. Having lost both of my Grandfather’s and several relatives to that fearful disease, it was very disheartening news to know that I know must worry that my sister had been hit by this cruel ailment so young.
My one hope was that after being hit with so many trials in such a short time, the worst of the year must at last be behind us. And I was hopeful that the rest of the year would now prove a time of joy. On this note I turned my attention to my nearing birthday. While the thrill of getting a year old is not what it used to be when I was 9 or 10, I was looking forward to spending a relaxing day with my family playing games and enjoying a day of planned meals that would give me one day off from the seemingly endless misery of combing through my long allergy list to determine what I would eat.
My birthday started on a good note, as for the first time in years at least one meal had successfully been prepared in advance and I was strangely feeling good. While my Mother made my birthday cake, I dreamed of a lazy afternoon playing board games and watching some of our favorite You Tube programs. Lunch was delicious. The homemade collard green lasagna was the perfect treat. But a few bites in a strange feeling began to take hold and by the time I took my first bite of birthday cake an all to familiar feeling of nausea was taking hold. I had not even finished my cake when the feeling became so strong that my shivering form had to pace the floor.
In sorrow my family turned to me, knowing that my day was ruined. Their hearts went out to me as I paced the floor as calmly as I could manage, hoping the increasingly intense misery would soon fade. Unfortunately matters quickly became worse as a strange flushed feeling rose from my chest and the room disappeared. Suspicious of the cause I pulled out my blood pressure cuff to reveal that my pulse was racing at 159 beats per minute.
I quickly took a pill for my heart, and hoped that relief would soon come. Minutes passed and the misery continued to increase. Fearful of where the misery was heading I quietly grabbed my pocket book intending to place it on the table on the rare chance I would have to go to ER. But the moment I walked into the room with my pocket book my Mother and sister immediately reacted with concern asking me if I was going to ER. To my surprise I heard myself answering in the affirmative. Wondering at my odd response, I prepared to head to ER. Worrying all the time my foolishness in declaring that I needed to go even though I had no job or insurance to pay the bill.
The ride to ER quickly allayed my fears as I found myself desperately wishing to be at the destination. My sister from her position behind me, seemed to sense that something was fearfully wrong, as she worriedly asked me if I was still here. I did my best to downplay her fears by reassuring her that I was indeed alive, but her anxiety was still heightened and she urged that I should be taken to the nearest ER instead of the one we were heading to which was 10 miles away. I remained quiet, not wanting to increase the stress, but after another wave of that odd feeling washed over my chest I decided that she was probably right.
Arriving at the ER, it was a struggle to get my shaky legs to make their way inside. When the ER nurse finally called me, I struggled to explain my reason for coming, when I still could not explain why I had said that I wanted to come, instead of waiting to see what would happen as I originally planned. The reason was instantly clear to the triage nurse with one look at my pulse which rose and fell like an unhinged roller coaster. Immediately she called back for an EKG and was surprised when I was sent back to the waiting room a few minutes latter.
At last I was sent to a room where two nurses prepared to give me a medicine to help with my pulse. Still feeling rather ill, I would have looked forward to the relief it would provide, except I could not help why they had to send my family out of the room and loosen then unsnap my gown. My heart had raced before, and my family never had to be sent out of the room and the top of my gown prepped for a shot in my IV.
Instead of calming my fears, this move only heightened them. And instinctively I asked if something else could be done tried first. Fortunately I never had to find out why this unusually precautions were required as a recheck of my pulse revealed that it was down in the low 100’s. An hour of laying in the ER bed with an IV dripping liquids into my arm my pulse and nausea had calmed down so much that I felt rather sheepish for coming. That was until, alone in my room as my parents switched places, the doctor came in and said that the MRI of my chest reveled that I might have a blood clot.
Suddenly my world changed, as I realized how fully my life hung in the balance. Nausea and even tachycardia seemed minor to the realization that for some unknown reason my body was making clots leaving me at risk of having a heart attack or stoke. Before the doctor had finished speaking and once again before calling my Father to let him know that he needed to come back so that he would be there when I told my Mother what was wrong, my prayer for aid and comfort had risen to heaven.
As I sat alone in that strange stillness waiting for their return, quietly pondering how my world had changed, I found myself pondering the real possibility that I might never walk out of that hospital. Though I trusted in God, I had to take an honest look at the risk and recognize the possibility that even though He loved me, He might allow something to happen. In that moment I had to ask myself , how close to the threshold of heaven did I stand? But more importantly I had to ask, if the worst happened and my probation came to a crashing end, would I be ready? If my life ended that day and the next words I heard was God’s call, would I be glad to hear Him call my name, or would I squirm in fear.
Somehow as I thought o my personal fears and trials along with the intense unexpected and downward swing of those I loved, I found myself thinking less of my own worries and fears. My thoughts were drawn not to the ugly possibilities of what a stroke could do, but to the promised hope of that land faraway. In that moment oh how precious the promise of Jesus return seemed, as I asked myself how close to the threshold of heaven do I stand?
I hope that as you read this poem, that you will be inspired by this question that has become so close to my heart. And that you will pause from your hectic schedule to make certain that your heart is right with God, because we never know when in an unexpected moment our lives will be turned upside down, and our probation will forever be closed.
How close to the Threshold of Heaven do I Stand?
By Katherine B. Parilli
Where do I stand in the scope of time?
How close am I to crossing over the border?
When will the cup of earth’s iniquity be full?
And when will the door of mercy forever close?
I have grown weary of this world.
My eyes are tired of beholding sin.
My ears do throb from the shouts of vile rabble.
The cries of the widow ascend without ceasing.
And the fears of the oppressed weigh down upon my soul.
When will the trumpet sound?
When will the shout of victory ring though out eternity?
When will the power of the merciless be cut short?
Oh how long till the ugly day of sin come to its final close?
The wicked gather in the streets to mock Thy people.
They exult at the suffering poverty of their prey.
Pushing the poor from their shanty dwellings to make room for their jewel decked mansions.
Demanding an ever-increasing wealth to feed theses sharks of the land.
They hear not the father’s please of mercy for his children’s empty bellies,
Or a mother’s prayer for the protection of her sick child.
How long till the heavens be rolled back?
How long till the sign of the Son of Man appear?
How long till the kingdom of the devil is destroyed?
How long till justice one more fills the land?
Works of wickedness grow bolder each day.
They have no thought of pity for young or old.
Their ears are stopped to the painful moans of the ill or injured.
Their only thoughts are of evil and how to increase their vicious power.
Should not that day be drawing near?
Is not that hour upon us?
Is not the host of Heaven gathering the last sheaves before the harvest?
Is not this increasing of sorrows a sign of Your sure return?
Are You drawing near the door?
The earth is growing weary.
Storms are brewing at every turn.
Pounding land and sea with frightful furry.
The earth rolls and rises as if convulsing.
Like a feverish patient it reels and stumbles
Mercilessly seeking comfort.
Spewing its troubled contents,
Waiting for its day of healing.
Yes the day must be near.
The hour must be drawing close.
For Thou art a God of justice.
Only mercy and love are hidden within Thy wings.
As a loving father seeks the good of his children,
Thou has waited patiently for our return.
Yet Thy justice demands an end to sin.
Thy mercy must vanquish the cruel foe,
and bring an end to human suffering.
The army of the devil shall tremble.
For their fate they will weep.
And the righteous shall rejoice
As their deliverance draws nigh.
Then in that hour I shall be comforted.
My burden of sin licked up by the flames.
No longer my eyes to behold sorrow,
Or my ears the rude jest of a maddened throng.
Hunger, pain, poverty, all burred in the ashes.
Greed, illness, the grave wiped out in the cleansing flames.