For good

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?
~Blessings, Laura Story

I’m talking to my sis on the phone.

Her MS has relapsed. She’s in a lot of pain; trouble standing, walking. She’s facing several days of grueling infusions at the Multiple Sclerosis Center in Boston.

I’m telling her my plans, how Hope and I will visit her first thing tomorrow. (Hope can bring cheer to any place.)

“Can I tell you something, J?” I say. “I’m still thinking through this but… well, you know the story about Joseph? We’re studying it in my Bible study. Remember how his brothers hated him and sold him into slavery? He was taken to Egypt, separated from his family for 24 years, wrongfully accused, thrown in prison. At the end of the story, when he’s reunited with his brothers he comforts and forgives them, saying, ‘You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good… (Gen. 50:20)’

I’m trying to find the words, make sense of it all out loud.

“The phrase, ‘But God meant it for good.’ It’s been in my head for days. Last week I heard a story about a young girl who was hit by a car. She was paralyzed and suffered years of painful rehabilitation and therapy. The case went to trial, and the young girl was concerned that the woman who caused the accident would feel guilty for the rest of her life. Afterwards the girl approached the woman and said, ‘Don’t live your life in guilt. God meant this for good. I have come to know Him as a result of this pain.’

“That story and Joseph’s story have challenged me to look at my life, particularly, the hard stuff – losses, disappointments, times when I’ve been wronged or hurt, and dare I say, even autism – and see God’s goodness in it. Some people touched by autism might be enraged by my daring to say, God meant it for good. There are times when I’m angry at myself for even thinking such a thing.

Because the part of autism that causes my baby to suffer and struggle and miss out on so much? Make no mistake. I will never be o.k. with that. I will never get used to it.

And I know you can relate because of MS. You think you’re doing fine and all of a sudden reality slaps you in the face, literally knocks you down.

Happened to me today when a colleague casually asked what grade Rhema is in. Grade? I have no idea what grade she’s in – she’s in an intensive special needs school – we don’t even bother with grades. Or when our private speech therapist tested Rhema, and she scored the receptive language of a two-year old. Bam! Knock me down, down. But you know what the therapist said? She said, ‘For years Rhema’s been experiencing mini-seizures in the speech center of her brain. Her last EEG showed she’s seizing 58 times a minute! One would think that she could not process anything at all with that kind of electrical activity… But it seems like her brain has found a way… some other way!In spite of it all, she’s still learning – learning to attend, learning to understand, learning to learn. It’s been tough, but there’s still a lot of good!’

“Good, J. So much good. And of course I cannot begin to list all the ways we’ve grown and learned and loved because of Rhema. So I know I’m rambling and I turned this into a conversation about autism.

“But you get me? J, as you face these days again – the fear, the grief, the pain, the uncertainty (– and I’ll be right beside you, I promise) – can you still believe that God is always for you?

Can we, even when so much seems lost, say, His goodness has never lapsed. Not once. ?

And while we pray and wait, and wait and pray for healing, can we dare to look at our brokenness and see God’s good in it? In all of it?”

Gulp.

Pause.

“Yes,” she says, uplifted and brave. “By grace, through faith.”

Then she adds, “When I think about Rhema, her life… well, I just know God meant it for good.”

Oh my sister, your life, too. For His good.

.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” John 9:1-3

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18 thoughts on “For good

  1. I am very sorry to hear that your sister has had a relapse. I will be praying that the infusions work quickly and that she is out of pain soon.

    I do believe that God causes everything for good. We just may never know what that good is here on earth. Keep searching for it though. Keep searching and always have faith that there is good in everything God allows us to go through.

    I will continue to pray for your sister and Rhema. You guys are a constant source of inspiration to me with your faith and your perseverance.

    May God bless you all today in a special way that only he can.

  2. I am sorry to hear what is going on with your sister. The timing of this is incredible. I was reading a novel JUST last night (non-Christian) and in it the characters happened to be mocking the story of Joseph. “What are we possibly suppose to learn from that story?” the protagonist asked.

    So much. So very, very much.

    Praying…

  3. I am so very sorry your sister has had a relapse. Sending good thoughts and prayers.

    It seems you always write something that brings me exactly the message I need in the moment. After a particularly challenging night with Nik, I have been struggling to find the good, yet there is SO MUCH. I just needed the reminder this morning, thanks!

  4. Sorry your sister is going through so much pain, but what an encouragement you are to her. I’m so glad you have each other through some tough stuff.
    You are so very right, He means it all for good…I think the only way I’ve often gotten through some times in my life is to hold to the truth that even the hardest things are used for my good, my growth, His glory.
    I know we are at opposite ends of the autism pool, but it’s been difficult here lately, especially this week, I really needed this reminder. Thanks, Jeneil…praying for your family.

  5. Jeneil, I friend recommened your blog to me several months ago and I am blessed that she did. Thank you for encouraging my heart. God IS good and all he does is good even when it perplexes us.

  6. You, Rhema and your sister are so strong. I’m sorry you have so many tough days but through it all you manage to look for the good. I will be praying for you all. You sharing your story with us is indeed a blessing and you are helping so many people to navigate their lives with grace and courage.

  7. I am so glad you and your sister have each other. Through your blog I have seen the ways that you both powerfully uplift each other. You are both such gifts to one another 🙂

  8. I understand what J. is going though my daughter and her father both has MS. We have found out that stress is one of the things that will cause a flare up. As I watch them struggle to walk I have learned to thank God for the labored steps. At first I didn’t understand the pain. There are still things I don’t understand, I do understand that each day that she can go forward is a blessing. I watch her daughter help her walk with pride as slow as her mother needs her to go. This has taught me that MS has you only as long as you let it control you. Yes there are things that are out of your control, we can control how we handle MS, Autism and whatever life puts in our path. Keep strong and continue this blog it is such a help to so many. I don’t think you will ever know how many individuals you will help as you write your daily life experiences. Continue to be blessed

  9. I do hope she finds some relief soon and am glad that she is able to see something good in her journey…and you in yours. You’re right, for all that our children are able to touch, good comes of it. Thanks Jeneil!

  10. I waited to reply, Mama, because I simply needed to take a moment myself and survey the good that God has brought myself and my family through our own painful experiences.

    And I find the good.

    Always.

    Because He is undeniable in His love and His graces – when we are able to look through our tears and clearly see – there can be no doubt of His good. We are allowed some grief in the difficult times, but the lesson is in what we gain when we pull ourselves back up and feel strengthened by that ‘good’.

    Prayers to your sister and of course to you, Mama.
    xo

  11. Sending many positive thoughts to you!!!!
    you amaze me as always with your beautiful spirit as does your sister

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