I think my mom and dad will be surprised to hear that a gift they gave me more than two decades ago is something Jennifer and I turn to often in dealing with the daily realities of multiple sclerosis.
I’m surprised myself.
After all, when you get confirmed in the Lutheran church, it’s expected that you’ll receive some sort of religious memorabilia commemorating the event. You know: it usually is something like a cross to hang on your wall, a religious plaque to set on your desktop or special coin to carry in your pocket to remind you that God loves you.
Mine was a red prayer book that has moved with me throughout Iowa and Michigan in a silver, black and white shoebox – like an honorary piece of luggage that accompanied me every time I changed my mailing address.
I always remembered “The Lutheran Book of Prayer” was in the shoebox, but it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with this chronic illness that I dug out the book and took its contents to heart. Looking in the table of contents, under the heading “During Illness” I discovered the prayer that has given me the strength I need to positively move forward through my life with MS.
And now, it’s a prayer that Jennifer and I read most nights before we got to bed, and we wanted to share it with you in hopes that it may provide you comfort in your life:
Gracious God, help Jennifer and me to accept your will in our illness. As your children we believe that you cause all things to work together for our good, both of body and of spirit. But sometimes in the midst of illness and pain we forget or doubt. Forgive our weak faith. When we become impatient, encourage us by your word. Despite our worries and suffering, help us by our lives to reflect the radiance and confidence of those certain of your promises of help. Restore us to sound health if it be your will, and enable us with new vigor and enthusiasm to serve you zealously for many years to come. Give us your Holy Spirit that we may always witness joyfully to our Christian faith before men and women, confessing that all life, on earth and in heaven, is a gift from you. O Lord, have mercy. Hear our prayer for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Since I was diagnosed with MS, I’ve never asked God, “Why me?” Rather, I continue to tell God, “Help me.” And I’ve learned he’s always here, I just need to be open to where he’s offering a helping hand.
Even if it’s in a silver, black and white shoe box.