I think I was too young when I read the book Joni. I somehow missed the miracle involved and slighted the weaving inside the story of God's incomparable grace. I came away from the book instead with a very pronounced fear. A fear of paralysis. I included in my childish, nightly prayers the request of God to please, please, please, never allow me to be paralyzed, specifically from the neck down. I told Him I could handle paralysis from the waist down but not the neck down and told Him I'd rather die than endure that. The idea of it sounded claustrophobic, akin to my fear of being buried alive. So began my bargaining act with God. It was then that I started to lay down rules for Him of what were acceptable allowances in my life and what were not.
And then I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. All in all, it has not been so bad and I have been grateful for this, instead of something else. See, how I do this with God? Basically, I told Him, "Fine, I'll take it. I can deal with this. You've followed the rules sufficiently."
Lately, my legs have grown torpid, just sort of in a nagging way; stairs not as manageable, standing more strenuous. And I've felt this unease which I've kept mostly silent. Because all it amounts to is anxiety.
Things are fine now. But will they always be? What if in the future....?
You know what? I really don't know. None of us know what the future holds and who by worrying can add a single hour to their life? (Luke 12:25) This is something I do know. That fear is fruitless. I get it, but it is often hard to live out.
And so in God's timing, I am reading Ann Voskamp's book on gratitude and being grateful in ALL things. There is no way I can fairly say whether I'd feel gratitude if the worst were to happen. But I can work on being grateful in the present.
If I were not, many times supine in bed, too exhausted, truly, to deal with my children, limbs leaden, I would not pray the way I've been praying. And when praying this way I'm allowing in His strength and I can feel it. So, I am grateful, yes, for this disease.
I have not been able to find my regular devotional for many days, so this morning I picked up an old one; God Calling. And today it talks of "Gray Days". It says, "Never forget your 'Thank You.' Do you not see it is a lesson? You must say 'Thank You' on the grayest days.....If a gray day is not one of thankfulness, the lesson has to be repeated until it is. Not to everyone is it so. But only to those who ask to serve Me well, and to do much for Me. A great work requires a great and careful training."
So, this life is training. Might I learn?
"If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it's not so bad."