Now that I have begun this journey with ALS, I’m truly taking a crash course in the disease. At first, I simply thought of this disease as a breakdown of the motor neurons which in turn affects muscles resulting in the diminished use of almost all major muscles until they are useless. In fact, that is basically what the medical field believed until the last few decades. So my weakening tongue and worsening speech coupled with sporadic muscle cramps is what I expected (and the constant muscle twitches).
However, something I was not ready for was the emotional effect of ALS. What I am not necessarily referring to is the stress of being diagnosed with such a horrible disease (that in itself is enough). ALS affects the part of the brain that deals with emotion in a good number of individuals diagnosed. Larry Stogner, long time news anchor for ABC 11 (who was also recently diagnosed with ALS) did an interview very recently where he talked about the extreme emotionalism caused by ALS. The emotions that would be normally expected are put into extreme overdrive.
This is where I have come into direct personal contact with Romans 8:26. In Romans 8, Paul reminds me that if I have turned my life over to Christ, that I am no longer a condemned man (1-7). Likewise he also reminds me that because of what Jesus has done, His indwelling presence(9-11) is not just some added bonus to the new life, but it is absolutely necessary, because of the truth he next reveals.
When God saves us, His intention isn’t merely to bring us to Heaven, no matter what Gospel message you have heard says. If that was the point, then why did God not just rapture us up the moment we prayed? He did not, and that is because we live here first and there second. In 18-28, Paul reminds us of what our life here is like; we are living in a fallen, broken and disorderly world. And as inhabitants of that world, the fall will affect us in some way. For some, it might be some minor nuisance, but for others it is awful sickness and disease, it is death. The whole created order suffers, and sometimes we suffer with it. When that happens we cry out…….
Here is where it is raw: my emotions are stronger than I was prepared for. I’m not out of control or some complete wreck, but when grief or sadness comes over me, it is of a depth and breadth I simply cannot stand up against myself. More than once I have found myself crumpled in the corner, face in my hands crying out to God, and NOTHING comes out, but gibberish that might be mistaken for an animal. My mind is alert to what I’m doing, and that doing is nothing I do not f feel I can control or manipulate. I’m crying out to God without words, and here is the thing:
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
The miraculous happens: the pain filled cries of my heart which simply cannot pass the lips, even if I wanted to (and I tried to cry it out loud) aren’t stuck deep inside me. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit takes that groans and whimpers and translates them to God, who hears and knows exactly what I mean. It is then that He holds me, and for that I am thankful.
I don’t have the market on sorrow or grief. I know many folks who are in very sorrowful situations, who have cried out and nothing came, and I want you to know that He heard you, He did. It is so comforting to know God loves us enough, that when we are absolutely too broken to lift our heads, He hears us loud and clear.
***** EDITOR'S Note- I have not thrown in the towel in any way at all. Nope, not happening not today or tomorrow. I'm around for the long haul. I love you Wendie, Elijah, Benjamin and "June Bug"!