I recently visited a friend who has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. It involves the degeneration of motor neurons, leaving the brain unable to initiate and control voluntary muscle movements. The last time I saw my friend, her right arm was not working very well. Now just one year later, she is unable to walk or chew. She is confined to a bed unless someone puts her into a wheelchair, and a feeding tube provides the only route to nourishment. She tries to speak, but with much difficulty. I thank God that her left arm still works, because when I was totally stumped trying to understand what she was telling me, she was able to tap out a text message.
I believe with all of my heart that God could heal my friend in an instant, and I never stop asking for a miracle. I don't know if the Lord will heal my friend here on earth or if it will be when she is with Him for all eternity, but one day she will be healed. Jesus Christ is Lord of her life, and that gives the reason for having hope of a better day to come.
As we were sitting in my friend's little room, she tapped out a message asking if I remembered what her dad used to say about pain and suffering. "This is nothing compared to what Jesus went through."
Jesus gave it all so we could have it all. "Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24). There is so much suffering and pain and hardship in this life, yet Jesus said, "But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). I read Revelation 4 and 5 to remind us of just a glimpse of what is to come.
My sweet friend loves Jesus and trusts Him. We don't understand why this is happening to her body, but that does not diminish our faith. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1). It is hard enough to cope sometimes even when I know the Lord, and I can't imagine how people cope in hard times when they don't know the Lord and when they don't have the hope that only He can bring. He is the answer for every problem you have. He is the reason for the hope we have. I asked my friend what the Lord was saying to her about her situation, and the reply was simply: "Trust Him."
At one point, my friend asked me to get her Bible from a table. I thought she wanted me to look something up, but she just wanted to put her hand on it and close her eyes. She believes that God's word is true. When it promises that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us one day (Romans 8:18), we can believe it. When we read that His grace is sufficient for us, because His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), that is a promise to cling to.
We prayed together for whatever would bring God the most glory. That's a tough prayer. We also prayed, "Your will be done." It's a prayer of surrender and submitting to God for His higher purposes. Jesus showed us how to pray that way when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Abba, Father," he said, "Everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will'' (Mark 14:36).
Romans 15:13 says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." There is hope for a better day to come. I don't know if it will be in this life now or the eternal life that is to come, but it is coming. The only thing I know for sure is that on that day, I won't be sitting on the edge of a bed in a nursing home in Texas with a CD player balanced on my lap. One day I will stand together with my friend and sing praises to the Lord again. Or perhaps we'll be face down in worship before the Lamb who sits on the throne. All the glory to God. Amen.
Lisa Jisa and her family have been residents of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2000. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.