I’m celebrating an anniversary–of sorts–today. Five years ago today, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I remember sitting in an exam room at Johns Hopkins as my doctor informed me of the results of my lumbar puncture. My husband, of course, was with me, and I remember him holding my hand as the tears started to roll down my face. There was total silence in the room as the doctor kindly handed me a box of tissues. I don’t remember much else about that appointment, but I remember that silence. It was a somber moment but, because of God’s presence, a holy one, too.
I only know the exact date of my diagnosis because I recorded it in my Bible; next to Psalm 3 it says “April 26, 2005”.
O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people!
At the time and to this day, the warfare imagery seemed to speak so clearly to my situation. Dealing with a chronic disease is a real battle. For me, the battle has primarily taken place in the arena of my thoughts. All the “what if” questions can quickly lead my soul to a place of disquiet and fear, but, over the past five years, God has led me beside the still waters of faith, joy, and peace.
You may be surprised by the phrase that I’ve held onto from this passage: you break the teeth of the wicked. Make no mistake about it, MS is a wicked foe. It is an aberration of God’s design for my body, the result of the brokenness of sin that has warped and distorted his creation. But on that day five years ago, I knew–as I know now–that no matter how this disease would affect me, the power of MS to bite and devour me had been shattered in Jesus Christ. The same Jesus who bore my sins on the cross and crushed the power of sin and death would shatter the power of MS to destroy my life. So, I hold onto the hope that no matter what direction this disease takes–best or worst case scenario–my life and joy and peace are secure in Jesus, my glory, and the lifter of my head.