As of today, it has been five years I have been walking after years of paralysis from multiple sclerosis (MS). Many years were spent in an electric wheelchair. In 2018, I went before the Blessed Sacrament with a prayer request. It was a request made many times since 1984 when I was diagnosed with MS. By 2018, I had become triplegic, meaning three out of four of my limbs were affected by the cruel disease. Once again, I prayed that the Lord would allow me to walk again and release me from creeping paralysis. I was/am at end-stage multiple sclerosis. My brain is riddled with plaque (sclerotic lesions. Scler is Latin for ‘scars’). There are no remissions anymore. My next address should be a nursing home or a cemetery.
I prayed that God might allow me to get out of my wheelchair and walk again, even with a walker, or crutches, or canes — even for a short time. But I knew my withered legs were too weak to hold my weight and walk, even if I could stand. My prayer template was Christ’s example in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed three times that God would take away His cup of suffering but gave His situation to His heavenly Father by saying “not my will but yours be done.” His cup of suffering was not removed.
The difference between my 2018 prayer from all the others dating back to 1984 was that I finally and truly surrendered myself and my destiny in this life to God, knowing there is no disease, disability, no death or weeping in the next. God will personally wipe away every tear I ever shed. I finally learned to accept and rest with whatever He willed for me, knowing it was for my ultimate good.
Those who have not yet met Christ may scoff and write me off as a religious kook. So be it. My doctors cannot explain what happened. They are baffled. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed MS lesions throughout my brain. My medical file shows a long history of devastating aggressive MS.
And yet, here I am walking. Complete function has returned to my right arm. I walk with a cane outside my house, and no cane at all in my home. The Lord left me with a few residual effects. Why? Why didn’t He take all my disability away? I think I have been left with a limp and sometimes a cane to remind me from whence I have come (to use an archaic word). God knows my inner frailty dwarfs my outer frailty.
Without that reminder, I am apt to suppress memories of those awful years of wide-eyed terror and grief. I’m apt to shut out memories of paralysis that kept me in the ranks of the seriously disabled. My foul egotistical inner self would try to forget all that was and abandon those who are still there. I would be apt to imagine myself to be in the ranks of the able-bodied “us” rather than the disabled “them.” For decades I advocated from my wheelchair against any us/them mindset in favour of an inclusive community where such disdainful distinctions have been irradicated. Yes, I can see why God did not deliver me completely from the effects of my disease and disability. I’m apt to be a hypocrite of the lowest order.
Recently, a woman referred to me as a holy man. I am no such thing! If she only knew how many times I disappoint God, she would not have said that. My MS may have made me fall physically but my inner man makes me fall spiritually, and that’s much worse. And yet God continues to forgive me, through His Son Jesus Christ.
What if I must return to my wheelchair? What would I have to complain about? I asked God to let me walk again—even for a short time, whether or not it involved aides. He did that. I have been walking for five years. I will still praise God for giving me the time He gave me.
It’s good to know God can use a spiritual nincompoop such as me. A number of American news or current affairs journalists have interviewed me about my miracle. Click here for an interview that Texas podcaster Kristi Leigh had with me.
I am available to address your church, organization or pro-life group about disability and inclusive Christian communities, the nature of suffering and grief from a Christian perspective, and other pro-life issues.
CONTACT EMAIL for Mark Davis Pickup HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca