Friday, November 14, 2008

Learning to Live in Sufficient Grace

“But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Any serious illness can test ones faith and belief in God. But for those who suffer, like myself, with a chronic, debilitating disease every day brings about confusion, weakness, worry and fear. None of these attributes support an attitude which will allow me to see God in my everyday life, nor will they bless me in my daily walk with the Lord. My goal then becomes, “How do I learn to live in the sufficiency of His grace, trusting Him with every aspect of my daily life, laying it all down at the foot of the cross.

In January 2006 I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Due to my ego and belief that I was almost bulletproof, I thought to myself, “No big deal. So I’ll shake a little. I can handle that.” Of course, I had done the research and I knew very well that a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can bring a broad variety of symptoms. I just wanted to believe that my experience would be a slow progression and I would only be challenged by mild symptoms at worst.

That of course has not been my experience. As I have studied and researched this disease and have lived with it and the symptoms. I am learning just how much of my daily life can be impacted by a non-curable, progressive neurological disease. In a physicians P.D. lingo one of the tests used to measure a patients progression rate is what is called P.D.R.S., or Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scales. In the almost three years since my diagnosis I have gone from a PDRS score of 2 to a current rating of 57. The rating scale reflects 0 as being no symptoms to a top score of 100. This rapid increase in symptoms has me classified as progressing at a rate somewhere in the top 5 – 10% of all PD patients.

Given these facts, how then am I coping with the rapid changes in my physical condition? I am learning to rely fully on the power and strength of Jesus Christ. I have often heard it said that one cannot live a life of faith if they are never pushed beyond the point that their own human ability can carry them. It really doesn’t take much faith to walk or run when one is fully healthy. It doesn’t take much faith to walk into a job everyday prepared to give your best work to your employer when the mind and body are healthy and whole.

However, when it takes every bit of energy one can muster up just to get out of bed in the morning and get dressed to go into a place of work due to physical limitations, faith and reliance on God is increased. When one can no longer process verbal requests from co-workers and must ask them to write their requests down so that no mistakes are made and nothing is forgotten or overlooked, ones faith and reliance on God is increased. When at the end of the work-day one has no physical strength or stamina left to give, and there are still the responsibilities of cooking a meal for the family, playing with a child, or giving time and attention to ones husband, faith and reliance in God’s strength and provision is increased.

I am learning that to get through each day I must ask God to help me to focus on the tasks that He puts on my to-do list. There will be many tasks on my to-do list that never get attended to, and I have learned to release these items to God. He knows what activities are required in my job, in my ministry, and for my family and home life. For those required activities He will bless me with the ability to complete tasks and touch lives with the love of Jesus. The only requirement is that I remain in contact or communion with Him in order that I may have wisdom and insight as to what God has placed on my priority list for me to accomplish each day. This is where my challenge comes in, and where the Lord blesses me with the most opportunities to live by faith in Him.

Over the next few weeks I am going to try to look at a few of my daily challenges and share how I am learning to see God’s hand in the midst of my daily life. I will share what God is teaching me and how my faith is being increased as a result.

I have the honor and responsibility to share the wonders of Jesus with those around we who are lost and alone. Once again, I pray that God will bless me with the opportunities to “boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! Praise His name.

2 comments:

I am btrflynana... said...

Joanie
It is a shock when it seems like only yesterday you felt "normal"; and even more difficult when your body no longer reacts the way you were accustomed and expected it to. I can only imagine how much more the daily challenge is when you must keep up with the responsibilities of being a wife and mother along with your ministry.

Since my dx of MSA, I often feel very small, scared, childish and wishing it all was not what it is...Not how at 50 years of age I expected my life to be viewed or lived!

On days that are just a bit too much to face I find that more than ever I hang tightly to the Lord, in my mind I see myself as this small frightened little girl engulfed within his enormous arms, being held so tightly...feeling so much love and safety!

There have been so many wonderful people that have come into my life since this new diagnosis, it is obvious to me that it is through the Lords divine intervention they have happened.

My life is enriched more so now than ever because of this disease. I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most wonderful loving people afflicted with PD and/or PD Plus syndromes and/or their caregivers. Also I have had some of the best doctors and others in the medical field that have embraced me and helped me on this new journey. All are people I never would have met had it not been for my diagnosis!

I love your idea of sharing how and where you see the Lord in the midst of all this! I so look forward to reading and walking your journey with you!Thank you for making that possible!

Hang in there and keep that beautiful smile going...God bless and hugs kiddo...b'nana

Anonymous said...

I am inspired by your faith! The Lord has given me a tender heart for those with disabilities from a young age. Then as I've gone through extreme changes in my nerves and joints in the past, I have been determined to not be defeated because of the very people He has put in my life who are overcomers physically!
I count you and your blog as one of those contacts that God needed me to discover. I too have younger children that from time to time have to make adjustments to some of my weak days which are not too often, but do come unexpectedly at times.
You are one of the people I would want to befriend and help if we would live in the same town and attend the same church, my children would befriend yours, etc. I find as I am from a large city, that we got it happening (lots of places to go and things to do) but many in the church are very beautifully dressed, and proper and lives appear to be almost "perfect" ;however, many like myself are broken inside, but don't share their weaknesses.

May the Lord bless your life today and everyday with a peace that passes all understanding!