“What Will Become Of Me?”

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I will always remember this desperate cry of fear as Joan realized that Multiple Sclerosis was destroying her independence. The disease ravaged her brain so much  that at age 59 she would lose her home, her car, her friends, her church—everything—and move into an assisted living facility on Medicaid. That was fifteen years ago. I became her power of attorney and had to sell most of my sister-in-law’s possessions and find her a care facility she could afford to live in for the rest of her life.

It was quite a struggle to get Joan to accept the help she needed. She was single, never married, had a master’s degree in speech therapy, and worked for 20 years as a speech therapist for Mesquite, Texas, public schools. In those days teachers did not have social security. She depended on her parents a lot, especially her mom for relational support. When her mom died in 1978, Joan was overcome with grief. In 1988 a doctor diagnosed her MS, but never told her nor treated her. There was little that could be done for MS 25 years ago. Many people mistreated MS sufferers as having a psychological problem, even as a spiritual issue. Friends and family, not knowing she was suffering from a pernicious physical disease,  were put off by her erratic behavior.  Her health, emotions and friendships deteriorated. Judy and I didn’t how much she was failing until her diminished eyesight made it dangerous for her to drive. When Judy and I came from California to visit her in 1998, we took her to an eye doctor. His diagnosis led us to seek help from an emerging MS specialist at Southwest Medical Center in Dallas. It was obvious  that Joan needed some serious medical care and support—care she could never afford. When Joan realized her predicament, she clutched my arm and cried “What will become of me?”

Joan’s cry expresses a primal fear that haunts all of us, doesn’t it? I feel that fear when I try to think about my “end game.” How am I going to end up? Will some disease or accident, or just old age, stop me from being productive and make me dependent? Wrong question. Not “will” but “when”? Then, what? Who will be my power of attorney? Who will take care of me?  Where will I live? How will I afford it? I looked into long term care insurance, but frankly, if I could afford to pay the monthly premiums, I wouldn’t need it. The biggest fear about retirement is that the money will run out before life does. Then what? “What will become of me?”

Joan’s MS has now ravaged her body as well as her mind. Her eyesight is gone. She cannot read. She cannot walk. She can barely talk. Her mind is not clear. How much longer, Lord, must she be imprisoned by this awful disease? Our hearts break for her daily. But, she is now in an excellent nursing care facility and her small teacher’s annuity and Medicaid meet all her financial requirements. We are so grateful for the Juliette Fowler Home in East Dallas that cares for her 24/7. Yet, I wonder, “Is Joan (who is born-again) even aware that God is taking care of her and that someday ‘what will become of her’ is that she will be with the Lord, and her family?” Does that reality of hope help her?

And does this reality of hope help me as I brace for the end game our Father has prepared for me? Thinking about that, I am encouraged by this Biblical truth: “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want…..Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” So be it.

May this reality of hope in Psalm 23 help you when you ask “what will become of me?”

For His glory,
Pastor Mike