When the worship leader invited us to stand up and worship, I had to resist the wave of nausea that attempted to knock me back into my seat. The pain was so intense, I felt as if I was either going to vomit or pass out.
I stood up anyway. It wasn’t because I was worried about what anyone else would think of me if I sat through the worship set. My struggle is obvious enough to anyone watching that standing up is difficult for me.
I stood because I was desperate to worship the only One who had the power to help me in my struggle.
I am a prisoner of a broken body. There is no escape from my pain. I had a choice that morning to stay in bed or go to church, but I couldn’t let MS win. I knew the only comfort I would find that morning was to worship the Lord in the company of His saints.
I’ve had Multiple Sclerosis for almost 20 years. For the first 12-15 years, it was pretty manageable. Most people wouldn’t know I had it if I didn’t tell them. However, the last five years have been an uphill battle. All the approaches that used to work to calm disease activity are no longer a match for this relentless condition. This past year has felt like a bad dream where I am careening downhill in a runaway vehicle and no matter how hard I stomp on the brakes, I am powerless to slow the vehicle to safety.
There was a time when I felt hopeful and confident that the Lord was going to heal me. While I still believe with all my heart that He is more than able to do so, I am learning to surrender my expectations and trust what God is allowing in my life.
He has a purpose far greater than what I can see or perceive.
As I release my hopes of what I thought this season of my life would look like, I have had to grieve the death of many dreams. I’ve felt heartbroken over all that this disease has stripped from my life. I can no longer walk unassisted. Strolls with my husband on the beach are a thing of my past. I had to leave the workplace and go on disability. I can no longer travel independently or take my grandson to the park without assistance. The most recent addition to my demise has been intense, debilitating nerve pain.
Yet in spite of this difficult trial, I have never felt a deeper spring of joy flow from my heart. As I stood up in church that morning and reached up anguished arms to worship my Savior, it struck me.
God was using the intensity of my pain and the level of desperation I felt for Him to deepen my understanding of the gospel.
Suddenly a flood of realizations washed over me. In my depravity, apart from Christ, I am utterly hopeless. The same desperation I felt for the Lord to take away my pain is the same desperation I should feel for Him to save me from my sin.
“But God, being rich mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:4-9
Tears of joy and gratitude streamed down my cheeks as I was consumed with wonder at the goodness of God. The Holy Spirit was using my physical struggle to reveal to me the genuineness of my own faith.
In spite of my pain, I could still worship and trust Him to be my hope and strength.
While God may not choose to be glorified through a miraculous healing of my body, He is being glorified by my trust in His goodness in spite of my difficulties. God didn’t give me this life to make me healthy and happy, He gave me this life to make me holy and bring Him glory. If pain, chronic illness, and the loss of my mobility is the means by which He has chosen to do so, then I trust Him completely.
Today, and everyday, His grace is sufficient for me.
Note: To hear more of Jenny’s story, listen to Depth Podcast Episode 102.
Jenny’s favorite roles in life are being a wife, mom, grandma, and friend. When she’s not with family she is either reading, listening to a podcast, grabbing coffee with a friend, or writing. Before going on disability, due to a battle with chronic illness, Jenny served on staff at a church overseeing children’s, care, and married life ministries. Jenny’s singular passion in life is to know Christ more deeply in all she is and all she does, and to allow God to use her life for His glory and the proclamation of the gospel. Jenny actively serves at her church as a women’s Bible study leader, co-leads a small group with her husband, and is a Biblical Counselor in training. This year will mark her 30th year of walking with the Lord. You can connect with Jenny on her website.
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