“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly
places in Christ” Ephesians 1:3.
Yesterday, I received an email that really challenged me. It read, “Tell us about what MS means to you.” Having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis for four years now, I stopped and pondered. I prayed, too. What does it mean to me, dear God?
When I was first diagnosed, MS meant shock and grief. As I suffered with symptoms, it meant pain. It also represented uncertainty. It was as if a blanket of ignorance was removed from my world. There is truth to the saying that “ignorance is bliss.” I liked thinking that I might be healthy until the Lord graciously takes me to Heaven in my sleep. The thought of having an illness that is progressive, and not knowing when it will attack or the severity of the attack, seriously challenged my foundation.
By foundation, I mean that I questioned whether or not my faith and confidence rested in Christ and His Sure Foundation or in the outcome of this illness. A friend encouraged me during the dark days of receiving the news that I would never be the same health-wise for the rest of my life. A grandmother figure, who walked through much hardship herself, said, “Brooke, are you worshiping God for who He is or for what He can do?”
I knew suffering. My dad left when I was nine, and I did not see him for 20 years. I was in a severe auto accident. I lost a child. Two, in fact. A four-year-old daughter, and a baby girl at 20 weeks of pregnancy. And my dreams did not come true. After all of that, I thought that I learned how to surrender and put the Lord first in all things, saying, “whatever Your will is, Lord, I will trust you and obey.” But each trial is different. We do not surrender ONCE to the Lord, we surrender DAILY, every hour, every minute. It felt as if this diagnosis was a curse. Intellectually, I knew it was not. As a daughter of His, my Heavenly Father was not cursing me. But the nitty-gritty of receiving bad news, going through crisis, enduring suffering, is that sometimes what is meant for our good and His glory FEELS like disfavor from God, a curse.
Because I am a born-again Christian, a follower of Jesus, I have the Holy Spirit working within me for my benefit. As the Lord drew me to His Word, reminded me of His faithfulness through the years, and filled my mind with Truth, rather than the lies of the adversary who seeks to defame God’s character always, He led me to a sweet surrender of my desire to be well. Please do not misunderstand my statement there. I am not asking to be sick, and I still desire healing. But what if God chooses to leave me “broken?” What then? Shall I spend all of my days in anguish, crying out for and begging for an outcome that may not be His best plan for me?
“His thoughts are not my thoughts. His ways are not my ways” (Isa. 55:8). Who can know the mind of the Lord? There is a precious peace that comes through accepting that we are not in control of the outcome. Whether we feel like we are in charge or not, God is the One calling all the shots. He is the One in charge of every situation. Our difficulty with that fact surfaces when we begin to believe lies about our Heavenly Father. We hear that He is not good, that He is not just, that He shows partiality, that He delights in punishing His children.
Meditating on Scripture allows us to know that these are lies propagated by the evil one to harm us, God’s people. Only through meeting with Jesus, and pouring my heart out to Him with honesty, giving truthful confession that, “I simply do not understand,” did God grant me the “peace that passes understanding.” It is through a regular diet of the nourishing Word of God that my mind is transformed from false, negative, despairing thoughts, from worry, anxiety and fear. I have found true comfort and peace in no other Person than the Lord Jesus Himself. He is mysterious. It can not be explained how the Lord grants His strength, His comfort, His peace, but He promises that He will do it. He can and will transform our thinking into rejoicing in His character and resting in His sovereignty, no matter what the situation.
So, yesterday, I found myself clicking the orange button on the email and filling the blank, “MS=a gift of suffering from God that He will use to His glory.” I trust Him to do that. I trust Him to grant me what I need TODAY to walk in Him. My younger sister, Brenna, has MS, too. She has been diagnosed for 13 years now. I read her orange button yesterday, “MS=a way for me to share how God sees me through MS daily.” God gave Brenna what she needed to trust Him, too!
What is your struggle today? What are you challenged with handing over to your Father who loves you so? What have you viewed as a curse that God meant for blessing? Have you considered your present sufferings a gift? Have you asked the Lord to use them to His glory that others may know Jesus and inherit eternal life? Might God use you to encourage another who faces the same difficulty?
Perhaps you have surrendered hardships or present trials to the Lord, but you just needed to be reminded today that He is working it all to His glory, and you are His instrument, a part of His perfect plan for eternity. May the Lord be praised in each of your hearts and lives today!