Carolyn Warbelton is a member/partner at Foothills Church where I serve as one of the pastors. She has multiple sclerosis, which is a physically degenerative disease. Carolyn exudes joy. She serves. She smiles. She greets guests/members.
Several months ago Carolyn wrote a brief word on contentment, which came from a short study our small groups did together. I asked if I could post it here. She she yes. Does she have bad days? Of course. But the pattern of her life and posture appears to be someone who has found a joy that supersedes her immediate circumstances.
Here’s some brief thoughts on contentment and God’s plan for our lives.
We have been talking about contentment in our growth groups and it caused me to look back several years ago to a time I was not content and searching for my own plan.
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1989. I was mostly okay with it because except for a few minor flare-ups, it was in remission until 2003. I still managed to work around the house and drive for several years, but then in 2007, I needed a power chair to go long distances—the zoo, Disneyland, etc. Eventually, the MS progressed, and I needed the chair all the time.
I just wasn’t content with being stuck in this chair and unable to do so many things. My doctor wanted to try chemotherapy for MS, known to be very helpful so I did lots of chemo treatment, but nothing changed.
Then I heard about chronic cerebral venous insufficiency (CCSVI), a possible way to improve MS symptoms. I couldn’t wait to try it so I could give up this chair. I did angioplasty to unclog veins with over 50% blockage—this had to do it, but it didn’t.
My last hope was stem cell treatment so I did that. I prayed and prayed while I was having the procedure done. After giving it several weeks, still nothing had changed. I began to think that getting out of this chair was my plan, not God’s.
I asked God 3 times to make me walk again and to give my right hand strength to write or play the piano, but then I read in 2 Corinthians 12:9 about Paul asking God 3 times to remove the thorn in his flesh, but God said “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Wow, this was clearly God’s plan for me.
Now, I am completely content to be in this power chair to show others that God is giving me strength to do many things in spite of this chair, and sometimes I can even make people smile because of my chair. I can still do things like typing all my growth group notes with my left hand, and I may even order a piano book for left hand only playing!
So my church family and friends are going to have to put up with me zipping around on my scooter because I already asked God 3 times and I don’t think I’d better ask again.