“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35, 37)
When I first learned I had multiple sclerosis (MS) I was teaching second graders. The relapse I was having made me lethargic. Too weak to teach.
I knew I couldn’t tell my students I would be absent because I was too tired. The challenge was explaining my illness in a way they could understand without scaring them.
First, I involved them in a role-paying activity. Several students were selected to be parts of the central nervous system. They pretended they were ‘sending’ messages received from the eye, to the brain, then onto the legs or hands.
Next, they acted out the immune system. They understood the immune system attacks sickness in the body. I explained that my immune system is confused; it attacks good cells in my brain.
I told them my MS sometimes makes me feel very tired, like a wet noodle. “Do you know what I mean?”
One student responded, “You feel kinda floppy.” Exactly!
I had an important message to share. Sooner or later, every student would face difficult life situations. My illness could be an example of how to respond.
On the board I drew a line making two columns. In the first column I listed all my symptoms: pain, fatigue, bruises where I get my injections, etc.
In the second column I listed ‘The Truth.’ God is in control, has a perfect plan for my life, and will provide all I need: strength, peace, wisdom, helpers (Explaining that it’s like when children fall down at recess and other children come over to help. It’s like a love attack. That’s what it’s like with believers. God uses other Christians to help.)
I emphasized that focusing on the Truth, instead of thinking about my pain, helps me have joy and hope.
They asked, “Is it contagious? Can you die? Is there a cure? Why did God let this happen?”
Perhaps the most important message of all was that circumstances don’t change who Jesus is. I had them sing in a worshipful manner the familiar words: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You that Your love never changes. Help me always see Your love during times of pain and sorrow. Grant Your perfect peace to loved ones, big and little, who are concerned about my disease.
About the Author:
Vicki Chandler understands special needs as a patient, parent, and professor. She has had multiple sclerosis since 1993. Her 31-year-old son was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She’s taught special education as a teacher, administrator, and adjunct professor. Through her online community she reaches out to other parents of children with special needs. http://theblogfrog.com/1505794
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What has your child said about your illness? Rest Ministries founder is currently working on a book for Christian chronically ill moms. She’d love your examples, stories, struggles, etc. at http://momwithillness.com>