The reality of my life is that I have Parkinson’s Disease. The recognition of this reality has caused me a lot of grief. I had to give up my long distance running due to taking a bad fall and the inability to run for any length of time without getting extremely fatigued in my legs. I can jog slowly for about 30 seconds and then I have to stop and walk. My right hand shakes at times, and my right leg shakes a lot of the time. I have bladder issues which cause me to have to get up three or four times a night. I take two medications, a total of 11 pills, every day to attempt to control the symptoms, and I understand that I will have to increase the dosage of drugs I need to take over time as the disease progresses.
I say all of this, not so that you will feel sorry for me, that would not be helpful. I am trying to become clear in my mind as to whether this has come upon me by chance as it seems to for so many people, or whether there is something on a spiritual level that I need to consider. If that would be the case, then I had better pay close attention to what God may be doing in my life.
In 1 Corinthians 12:7, Paul tells us “…..So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.” Two things are apparent in this scripture. First, God did not send the thorn; it was sent straight from Satan. Secondly, God did allow the thorn to remain, evidently as a way to help Paul conquer his pride. These two conclusions have profound implications for me as I struggle with the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s. In verses 8 & 9 of this passage, Paul goes on to say, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
I asked God to heal me of Parkinson’s, and to this point, He has not done so. I am thus faced with the question – is it because He does not hear me or is He trying to tell me that the answer is no? If the answer is no, does He want to use my weakness to work His power through me? As I certainly believe that He listens and hears my every prayer, I can only conclude that I am to accept that Parkinson’s may be a thorn that He wants to use to demonstrate His grace and that He will somehow use my weakness to bring honor to Him.
I certainly don’t compare myself to Paul, however, much like Paul I count it an honor to accept my affliction if somehow it will make me a better disciple of Jesus Christ. I have a lot of work to do though because I have my moments of depression where I feel so bad that I don’t want to deal with it anymore.
Unless God shows me something different, I will accept that Parkinson’s is a ‘thorn in the flesh’ that was given to me by the enemy, and that God is going to allow it to stay and that He will use it to keep me humble and make me a better disciple of Jesus Christ.