What a Disability Can Teach
by Dick Peik
I became a Christian in 1959 while in college, attended theological seminary, and then pastored for nearly 30 years. In 1980 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (the slowly regressing type). My teaching ended in 1987 as my speech became increasingly slurred. Presently (2002) my whole body has been affected, but not entirely. Here are a few things MS has been teaching me.
The continued regression (about every 6 months there is something else I can’t do!) continually reminds me that eternal life never changes, unlike my condition. Eternal Security is more a day-by-day reality now whereas in the past it was often overlooked.
Likewise, a secure marriage has become a tremendous encouragement. Shortly after the MS began, my wife and I read that the divorce rate for MS patients was extremely high—around 90%! I remember commenting, "Boy, if we survive this, it’ll take a miracle for sure!" Well, today I am no longer afraid of the divorce statistics. Realizing we both made vows to Him for life is the big reason. Knowing both of us recognize we live in a sinful world is another.
Since the MS started, Rom 8:28 has taken on new meaning for me. Of course, it was true before, and when I believed in Christ it became true for me. But, since the MS, Rom 8:28 has become real. It means my circumstances are not "accidents" to God. Hearing well-meaning people say, "with enough faith, you could be healed" sort of "rolls off my back" these days. I am increasingly convinced that "Thy will be done" is the "prayer of faith" He really wants.
All the varied troubles with MS have certainly confirmed the reality of my wife’s and my salvation.
I think back to pastoring and what a privilege it was to be given an occupation in which teaching the Word of God was a primary responsibility.
About 4 years ago my family got me to agree (reluctantly) to spending 8 hours/day in bed! Knowing I couldn’t (and still can’t) sleep that long, I decided to memorize Scripture and review verses during the time spent lying in bed awake. With the strong possibility of total blindness lurking in the future, I have been motivated even more to memorize Scripture. I do not want to imply at all that this is necessary for all believers, but I do not think any habit in my Christian life has ever meant more!
Shortly after the MS started pulling me down physically, someone told me, "Don’t let what you can’t do keep you from doing what you can do." That is one of the top pieces of advice I’ve had yet! Though unable to do anything else, I can still type on this computer (which I’m doing now) with 2 fingers, read slowly through magnifying glasses, and, at a nearby college pool, "swim" 3 days a week (with a pool lifeguard, float, etc. as aids). Philippians 4:19 is another promise that "touches home" these days.
Again, by experience, Christian fellowship means more than it used to. Weekly, a Christian friend comes for memory verse review, biweekly another for prayer, and monthly another just to talk. I am never bored.
I have become increasingly aware that everybody is disabled in some way. My problem can be seen, and maybe yours cannot, but we are all "in the same boat." So, 2 John 3:2 and Rev 21:4 should look mighty good to all of us who have trusted Him!