She’d heard the long hushed conversations. She’d caught me brush away a tear. She’d prayed with me every night for her aunt (my twin). Finally she asked,
“What is MS anyway?”
I put her off. “I’ll tell you when you’re older.”
“You and Daddy seem to do this a lot. I ask a question and you always say you’ll tell me when I’m older. But I want to know a lot of stuff now. I’m seven years old!”
I smiled. “Oh, my Hope. Ok. So. Our bodies have things called nerves. Think of a nerve like the cable we use to charge Rhema’s iPad. Nerves carry messages from the brain to other parts of the body – like your eyes and your elbows and your feet – and tell them what to do. Cool, right? And we have a ton of nerves in our body. When you have MS the lining that covers the nerves gets damaged and forms lots of scars. It makes it hard for the brain to get messages to other parts of the body. So sometimes people with MS have trouble seeing or walking or using their hands and other stuff.”
“But then they take medicine and it goes away.”
“Well, no. There are medicines that might help them feel better. But… there is no medicine that will make this go away.”
I watched the understanding sink in and saw my fears mirrored back as she thought of her beloved aunt, and her eyes filled.
I hurried on, “But isn’t it so cool how our brains are like computers? I’m holding this cup right now and I’m looking at you and breathing and thinking and talking and there is so much, Hope, a million miraculous things going on inside me to make that happen-”
And then she said something she’s heard and said many times and come to believe,
“God is good all the time.”
The moment I knew Rhema had autism I called my sister. She listened and cried and prayed with me and comforted me. Then she hung up the phone and went to the emergency room because she had no feeling in her legs. That same day she was diagnosed with MS. Since then, eight years ago, my greatest fears in life have centered around my daughter and my sister.
The mind is very good at imagining disastrous endings. Still, all along I have made a choice to believe that God will care for them, even better than me. But a series of seemingly unfavorable events in recent weeks forced me to ask “What if God doesn’t come through?”, “What if my deepest fears one day are realized?” And there was an earthquake because everything around me seemed to come crashing down and I was shaken to the core.
But Hope was waiting. I was supposed to say it back in reverse. It’s an old Don Moen song, and they say it in the church I grew up in in a call and response style, “God is good all the time…”
This is silly, I thought. I don’t have to say it. I’m angry. I’m lost. I’ve never been so scared.
But Hope was waiting.
“All the time God is good.”
I mumble-whispered it. Because trusting still sits well with my soul.
Saying the words forced me to remember what is true, and this is true: The Maker of brains and voices and myelin sheaths and fingers and feet is good. And His mercy and goodness follow me, follow my sister, follow my Rhema and Hope and Brandon, all the moments of the days of our lives. Never once has there been a lapse in His goodness. He walks besides us all the way.
Endings, yes. But not disastrous when you have the hope of heaven where there will be no more disability, pain, sickness and sorrow. Some call it all a crutch or Santa Claus. For us it is “hope maketh not ashamed.”
“Though I may not understand
All the plans you have for me
My life is in your hands
And through the eyes of faint
I can clearly see that
God is good all the time.”