I have a friend. (that wasn’t meant to be a song bomb, but how many of you just heard James Taylor singing “you’ve got a friend”???). Okay, seriously, I have a friend. Well, more than one. But, right now we’re only going to talk about one. She is godly, loving, friendly, outgoing….and maybe even a little outrageous. To see this woman, you’d think she has it all, has the world by its tail, has arrived! But, there’s this one thing. She has MS.
For you uninformed folks, let’s digress just for a minute on what MS is and isn’t. It isn’t Jerry’s kids – that’s MD. It isn’t fatal….most of the time. It is Multiple Sclerosis. Unlike some medical terms, the name in itself isn’t extremely helpful in helping you know anything about it. MS is a disease that affects the brain, spinal column and optic nerves (Central Nervous System or CNS). Essentially, the body’s immune system attacks itself and causes plaques to build up in weird, random places within the CNS. When the plaque is present, the signals can’t properly pass from one place to another within the CNS. Kind of like a road block. The placement of the plaque determines what the symptoms of a person’s MS will be. It can be different for everyone, but some of the more common ones are weakness, fatigue, vision problems, numbness, tingling. The one predictable thing about MS is its unpredictability. MS is chronic. There is no cure. The symptoms can be managed with medication. Some people will have it and have one or two flare-ups, then never have another problem. Other folks get it in a different way and it just….stays.
And so it is with my friend. For now, it’s just there. For the most part the MS doesn’t affect her daily living. She is an active mother, grandmother, business owner, church goer. But, some days, the MS has the upper hand and she must go to bed. No options. Do not pass go, do not collect $200….go straight to bed and take your meds! But, believe me when I tell you that she doesn’t go down without a fight!
In another life, my sweet husband (those of you who heard me threatening to kill him this morning….shh!)….my sweet husband was diagnosed with MS. We were young – in our twenties – had just purchased a house and were trying to have a baby. And, all of a sudden, a doctor with a horrible bedside manner completely knocked our world off its axis. “You have MS, it probably won’t kill you. If you want to know more, call the MS Society.” OH. MY. GOSH. To this day, I can feel the pain and confusion explode in my head. We didn’t know what else to do, so we found something to joke about. We had a couple of friends waiting for us in the waiting room. They heard our laughter and assumed it meant good news. How sad I was to burst their bubble.
Almost a decade later, when the sweet husband was sick as much as he was well, when we had been financially devastated by the disease, when we had a preschooler, we had decided we would no longer beg God at the altar for a healing. Not that we were giving up on God…not at all! We had just reached a point in our walk with the Lord that we felt the assurance that He knew we wanted a healing. So, we chose to worship and serve Him with only occasional reminders that a healing would be really nice, thank you very much. Although, honestly, we actually felt like our healing was to be a spiritual one and we had already received it. We were at peace with the thoughts of knowing that he may just live the rest of his life as a sick man. It was then that a woman, who I think believed it with every fiber of her being when she said, “If you only had enough faith, your husband would have already been healed.”
I was hurt. No…more than that. I was wounded beyond comprehension or explanation. I found myself lying before the Lord, begging and pleading. “God if I’m the problem, I’m so sorry! Please heal my husband!”
What a hurtful attitude that woman had! What a hurtful attitude many Christians have. Because they haven’t been in that exact spot, they think they can rub a couple of Bible verses on the spot and make it go away. The people who live with chronic illness (including mental) can often attest to the fact that their faith isn’t lacking.
Now, hear me well. I am not saying we don’t need to have faith. That is contrary to the Word. We do need faith. Hebrews 11:6 says it’s impossible to please God without faith! (“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” NASB) And most of the people in the Bible who were healed had faith….or had someone who had enough faith for them. The woman with the issue of blood (Matt 9:20-22) had so much faith that she believed that she only needed to touch the hem of his robe for a healing. She was right! And she was healed. The Roman soldier in Matt 8 (5-13) had faith that Jesus could heal his servant. He was right and Jesus did!
But….and here’s the part that really seems to upset some people. Not everyone will be healed. Seriously. Look at Paul. He writes about asking God to take his “thorn in the flesh” and God assured Paul that His grace was sufficient. Paul had enough faith. But, sometimes the healing isn’t physical. And sometimes, it just doesn’t suit God’s purposes to heal. Maybe, just maybe, He gets more glory out of some people being sick. Whatever His reasons are, I know this: He is good, He is loving and He is sovereign. He has made the best choice, no matter what it is, and He’s made it out of love.
Before you start thinking that this is something that I’ve convinced myself of so I’d feel better about having a sick husband, know this: My husband is a healed man! Yes, we got the healing we had been praying for! We give God all the glory and praise for it! We know now that God’s timing was perfect….and we know why God healed him when He did. (He was gracious and chose to reveal it to us).
As for my friend. She has faith that she will be healed. And, if she doesn’t, I have enough faith for her. But, please know, that if you feel compelled to tell her that she’s the reason she hasn’t been healed, you WILL see that side of me that makes people no longer want to talk to me. Just saying. God said love one another, not condemn.
Be blessed and tell someone you love them! (and pray for my friend!)