by Fiona Chow
I began my battle with Parkinson’s disease when I was 37 years old. The disease is especially aggressive on younger patients. For the past 13-1/2 years, I have experienced much suffering. My symptoms from Parkinson’s required me to undergo two brain surgeries. The first one was a disaster: I came out with painful spasms and dyskinicia* which contorted my body to the point where some of my ribs broke. The second operation eliminated the dyskinicia but affected my speech. I can now make few sounds and the muscles around my mouth are frozen most of the time. I no longer enjoy eating and am in discomfort 85% of the day.
People ask me, "Why are you encountering such affliction in your life even though you believe in God? Shouldn't He protect you from such pain?" Actually, God never said that His children are immunized from affliction. In fact, Christians and non-Christians will all face difficulties in life.The difference is that Christians can surrender their problems to God knowing that He has a plan for their lives.We can make our own plans and may even think that we are doing a pretty good job of it, but the unexpeected can happen, suddenly throwing everything into confusion. At those times, we may not understand why things turn out the way they do; we complain, become frustrated or depressed, and seek answers. Thankfully, we may be able to regain our bearing and move on but our confidence in ourselves is shaken. The future is less sure and we are more aware and anxious about what else can go wrong in our lives.
In spite of Parkinson’s, God’s grace has kept me steady along my life’s path. I didn’t understand before why certain things happened to me. But after going through all those experiences, I am absolutely able to say that God is good to me.
Upon reflection, I come to appreciate God’s plans for me. I also realize He often reveals a little at a time. Although I may not be able to see the whole picture now, what I have seen so far assures me that there will be a time when everything will be revealed and we will all be utterly amazed by what God can do.
1. God’s family plan was different from ours…but wiser...
My husband, Patrick, and I planned to have two children. However, after my daughter Drisanna was born, there were no more brothers or sisters for her. For some time, we were quite disappointed. But I understand now that God knew ahead of time that I would not be able to take care of more than one child. My daughter was only six years old when I realized I had an incurable disease. If there had been another child, I would not have been able to cope.
2. God’s dream job was different from mine…but better...
I always wanted to work for a prominent large corporation, but I did not get my wish fulfilled. Instead, I worked for a small company. God knew that the disease would take a great toll on me so He chose the most suitable job for me. Although my position at the small company was the complete opposite of my “dream job,” it allowed me to continue working for 10 years after my diagnosis. No other company would have allowed me to continue working for so long and Mr. Kuts Shoji was a compassionate boss.
In the last years of my employment, there were times when I could not even answer the telephone due to severe dyskinicia. In 1998, the company decided to change to an entirely different computer system. I knew then that it was impossible for me to learn a new system. For about two hours every day, my medication would not have any effect and I had to hide myself away in the showroom or restroom. But amazingly even under those circumstances, I was able to work on learning the new system. It was purely God’s grace: He knew what was best for me.
3. God’s ambition is different from ours…but greater...
God understood Patrick’s heart and knew that he needed to run his own business. In 1994, without my consent, Patrick invested our life savings in an auto body shop. One morning, I saw him sitting in our living room sobbing. I asked him what had happened and he said that the entire investment was going down the drain and he was planning to borrow in order to cover the losses. I discouraged him from borrowing money and advised him to let God take control of the business. Whatever God did, it would be His plan for the business, not ours. Then we prayed together committing the business to God.
After that, miracles began to happen one after another. Once, when the company’s cash flow was very low, four cars were sold in a single day. And that instantly took care of the urgent need. His business went from “no-way-out” to breaking even and, eventually, making small profits.
Patrick decided to put some Christian videos in the office so that customers could view them while waiting for their cars to be fixed. After a while, he wondered if anyone was benefiting from the videos. One day he received telephone calls from two different families. They both thanked Patrick for putting the videos in the shop because, through watching them, they had accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.
When we first dedicated the business to God, it did not seem that God had planned for Patrick to start his own business. However, as my sickness progressed, it became clear that if Patrick had still been an employee of someone else’s engineering firm, he would have had great difficulty maintaining the job. Currently, I require 24-hour care and Patrick’s flexible work schedule at the auto body shop allows him to be available for me. God has planned ahead. Even though sometimes it seems as if we’ve made great mistakes, when we allow God to take control, He does wonderful and unexpected things in our lives.
Although I continue to battle with Parkinson’s disease, I have experienced numerous healings. Over time, God healed my allergies, irregular heartbeat, and vulnerability to colds. These are not major illnesses, but these ailments are a nuisance to my Parkinson’s symptoms. It was a part of God’s plan to take these away from me.
When in anguish due to suffering, I found that the best way to get through each day is to appreciate the people God puts around me. God has prepared good and patient caregivers, wonderful family members and caring friends. I take the time to learn what God wants me to learn during those specific times. When Jesus was on the earth, He suffered much. He didn’t need to bear such unfairness but He chose to because He loves us. He understands our sufferings because He has been through them. He has given His all for us; what more can He give?
How do you respond to the challenges in your life? Are you willing to put your trust in God–to let Him take your hand and show you the way? He will lead you and reveal His plan for your future. I’ve learned to have joy and peace no matter what condition I am in because He has prepared a marvelous life for everyone who believes in Him. Join me in being able to say, “God is so good!”
*Dyskinesia is an involuntary uncoordinated movements of the extremities and body.