Thursday, September 01, 2011

MS and Michael J. Fox

Last week I read Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox. Early in the book he states that if someone offered to spare him from the diagnosis of Early Onset Parkinson's Disease and give him back the ten years between the diagnosis and writing about it, he would tell them to "take a hike". Parkinson's Disease (PD) rescued him from a life of alcohol abuse and the licentiousness that comes with a Hollywood celebrity status.

The message of Lucky Man was what I anticipated based on the title. I chose to read it because I hope to embrace MS as a blessing rather than a curse.

I know many people who respond to every setback in life by calling in the prayer warriors to rescue them from Satan's schemes to hinder them by eliminating the problem. Where would Michael J. Fox be today if someone had "rescued" him from PD?

I lost a good friend a couple of years ago to colon cancer. He didn't exit this life willingly. At his request, prayer warriors from around the world prayed for his healing, for continued life and ministry on this earth. Their petitions were not granted and the world is a poorer place for having lost a fine example of Christian love in action. I have yet to see the blessing in that loss.

And yet ... I have learned from it. I learned that we cannot back God into a corner and force Him to give in to our wishes by rounding up enough good people to throw their fervent prayers into the mix. I have never seen a more impressive example of united prayer, both in quantity of people praying and past effectiveness of the prayers of those praying. This was the "dream team" of prayer warriors. Still, the cancer won and my friend's earthly ministry of love came to an end.

There are those who would help me round up my own minor league dream team of prayer warriors to fight back against the encroachment of MS in my life. Some are already rallying the troops. My pastor would gladly anoint my head with oil and lead in prayer for my healing if I agreed to it. But is that what I want? I certainly wouldn't choose to become personally acquainted with MS but now that it has taken up residence in my life do I want to forcefully evict it? What if it is my ticket out of some of my own lifestyle mischoices? What if it is a blessing in disguise? Do I want to pour my energy into waging what could ultimately be a futile war against it without giving it a chance to bless me?

I know the answers to my questions are obvious to many. They count any misfortune as an agent of Satan to be forcefully driven away through the power of prayer. I'm not so sure. I will soon be starting a disease modifying therapy (DMT) drug to try to keep MS under control for as much and as long as possible by ordinary means, but I'm not quite willing to count it as an enemy of my soul and take up spiritual arms against it. It's a physical problem. For now, I think I'll respond by physical means and wait and see how it fits into my life spiritually.

Back when my daughter was playing high school tennis, we were often reminded that losing against a better player provides more learning opportunity than winning against a lesser foe does. I would gladly walk away from this game if I could, but since life has put me in the court against this formidable opponent, I think I'll play the balls that come my way and try to improve my game rather than spending large amounts of time and spiritual energy trying to escape over the fence.