“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Seasons come and seasons go. For example, Israel just recently celebrated their New Year (5774). But if you are reading this in the United States, then you a couple of months away from celebrating yours!
All of us on an individual level find ourselves embroiled in a myriad of different circumstances.
- One may have won the lottery, while his neighbor filed bankruptcy.
- One may be full of joy and hope, while a co-worker is battling with depression and hopelessness.
- One may be fearless, while his best friend is fearful.
The fact is it rains upon the just and the unjust alike and although life is not always fair, it is always just. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people, which leads me to this months topic: “Parkinson’s Disease.”
I am not going to try to explain, suggest medical advice or even offer my “expertise” on an incurable disease that I know very little about. In fact, the medical world is relatively mystified by this debilitating condition, so I will do my best to stay in my lane and offer help from another perspective.
Few of us will never forget the news interview a number of years ago when the actor Michael J. Fox valiantly told the world that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I remember Michael doing his utmost to keep his hands from trembling (tremors are a classic symptom) and remaining upbeat as he shared his painful news. Michael’s interview sparked awareness to a disease that now affects as many as one million Americans today.
Lou Gehrig, a famous athlete who suffered from another degenerative disease ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease), opened his “Farewell To Baseball” speech on July 4th, 1939 with these unforgettable words:
“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet, today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”
Did you catch that? “The luckiest man on the face of the Earth!” We have all heard the adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” We are not talking about “lemons” in this article…we are talking about an incurable disease. When given the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, what makes one a victor and another a victim? Only one thing can make the difference when push comes to shove… HOPE!
- Hope is the wind in the sails of faith.
- Hope makes us better than bitter.
- Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
- Hope is an ocean of possibility in the midst of a puddle of despair.
- Hope is an ingredient desperately needed in our world…right now!
- When we lose hope, we surrender to defeat and in essence, give up.
In September 2013, 64-year-old U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad became the first person ever to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. Nyad was surrounded by adoring fans as she left the water dazed and sunburned, but was able to speak these words:
“I have three messages.
- Never, ever give up.
- You are never too old to chase your dream.
- Life looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”
It was Nyad’s fifth attempt to complete the 110-mile swim! Her first attempt was in 1978 and she tried three more times in 2011 and 2012. However, Diana Nyad says she never lost hope.
Years ago when I was on staff at a church in Nashville, a successful businessman from the congregation invited me to his office for a chat. As I sat down across from him, I immediately noticed a plaque on his desk that read: “18 inches.”
Obviously, he saw me staring at it and said, “I bet you are wondering what that plaque is all about.” Little did I know that this businessman was about to change my life with the story behind “18 inches.”
The man told me this true story.
“Several years ago, I received a phone call from a field geologist that said he suspected a substantial amount of oil on property that I owned and recommended drilling. Knowing that I owned the mineral rights, I agreed to begin a sample core inspection. The initial report looked very promising. So, I assembled a team, had a drill erected, invested five million dollars and began to drill for oil.
“After a few months of drilling engineers exclaiming ‘Any day now,’ I exhausted the first five million with little to show for it. After praying and a long sleepless night, I borrowed a second five million dollars to continue the effort. Drilling continued for a few more months and engineers enthusiastically claimed that this would be one of the largest oil finds in U.S. history. But…no oil!
“Then it happened. The second five million dollars that I borrowed ran out. I had to make a decision to either borrow more money or sell the land to a Japanese firm that offered me a little more than my investment and the price of the land. I decided to sell the land and the drilling equipment to the Japanese firm.
“Three days later their team drilled 18” inches deeper and hit the second largest oil field in U.S. history.”
With tears in his eyes, my friend stood up behind his desk pointed his finger at me and said, “Michael…DON’T YOU EVER GIVE UP!”
Every “No” is one step closer to a “Yes.”
At any time, you may be a breath away from a breakthrough.
John Wimber, a famous evangelist known for healing miracles and the advent of The Vineyard Church, once told this story after he found out he had cancer.
“A dear pastor friend fully aware of my healing ministry asked if he could keep me company during my weekly chemo-therapy appointment.
“As I lay there receiving chemo my friend exclaimed, ‘John, I don’t understand. This God has used you to heal hundreds of people and you lie here dying of cancer? John, where is God now?’
“I responded, ‘You don’t see Him? Why He’s lying right next to me taking chemo!’”
It is at times when failure, a bad diagnosis or a personal crisis arises that we are tempted to look for someone to blame …and more often than not that person is God.
When someone dies, God is accused of taking him. When a business crumbles, God often gets the credit. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, mudslides and fires are called “Acts Of God.” When Parkinson’s disease is the prognosis… it is tempting to blame God. But, I would highly recommend that you resist that temptation in light of the fact that He is your strongest ally in the midst of your storm.
Where have I found you today, dear reader?
- Faithful or faithless?
- Hopeful or hopeless?
- Victor or victim?
Believe it or not, that decision is up to you!
“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praise worth, think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
Here is another one…
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive [make our prisoner] every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
When you are confronted by a disease like Parkinson’s, one that is incurable by man’s best efforts, maybe you should trust somebody that created man: God!
In the movie, Bruce Almighty, Bruce (Jim Carrey) thought God was against him and was making his life miserable. But the truth is Bruce was against Bruce and making his own life miserable.
So take off your boxing gloves, pull the darts out of your dartboard with God’s face on it and realize that He is your friend and your only hope.
God is ALWAYS for you and He is near to the broken hearted, so stop wasting the time you have looking for a scapegoat or being a victim and let God help.
Remember, when you run out… He runs in.
He is the only one who has the power (and proven track record) to cure the incurable and love the unlovable.
One of God’s names is Jehovah Rophe: the God that heals.
Here is my recommendation: Trust HIM as your healer and take these “Gos-pills” everyday:
- Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, faithful in prayer.”
- Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
- Proverbs 23:18, “There is surely hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
- Hebrews 6:18, ‘God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.”
- Psalm 43:5 “Why so downcast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
- Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
- Jeremiah 29:11,”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give YOU a hope and a future.”
It is impossible to “overdose” on these Gos-pills and if you should run out simply open the bottle… err um… I mean the Bible and you will find an inexhaustible supply!
“May the Lord bless you, and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:22-26