“I want to give you a few minutes to catch your breath. I’m sure that a Parkinson’s diagnosis was not what you were expecting to receive today.” After an hour-long examination, the same doctor who had diagnosed my father with Parkinson’s disease had just confirmed that, at the age of thirty-five, I had the same disease. After another hour of questions, and thinking out loud about next steps, I left the doctor’s office.
Doubts and fears filled my mind. What would life now look like for me? How long could I continue to serve the church that I loved so dearly? What would happen to my wife and kids?
Though I believe God is sovereign over the course of my life, that didn’t mean I had no inner struggles with grief over this news, and no fear about the future. On the contrary, there are still occasions when these thoughts and others like them threaten to consume me and become overwhelming— for example, when I’m not able physically to do what I once could do without difficulty. At times, it’s hard to explain to others how I’m doing or feeling, since my situation can change, for the better or worse, every day or even hour.
Perhaps you or someone you love is in a similar situation. Yet, while physical struggles are real, and what your life will look like in the future is uncertain, the Word of God gives us hope. The promises of God are certain and unfailing, even when we cannot see their present reality or we struggle to embrace them by faith. The more the news of my diagnosis has set in, the more I have realized how the Lord was preparing me for this new path on my life’s journey. Lessons learned from my pastor’s personal health struggles, and from hours of counseling conversations with others about their suffering, were equipping me to face my own trial.
It’s hard to see at first, but those who have Parkinson’s disease (PD) have been given a unique opportunity to see their faith in the Lord grow. Just as muscles can get stronger only when they are exercised, so we need trials to help our relationship with God grow. Life is filled with difficulties and pain. However, we receive much comfort when we learn to accept that all of them are ordained by our good and loving Father, not to crush us, but to strengthen us and produce endurance (James 1:2–4). The Lord uses trials not only to mature us, but also to cause us to live and long for eternity in heaven with him. My hope is that I can be of some encouragement to you as I share my story of how the Lord strengthens my faith each day, as I learn to trust him and lean on his Word.
In 2 Corinthians 4:16–18 the apostle Paul testifies of how his inner strength was renewed when he intentionally redirected his mind’s focus away from his earthly suffering and toward eternal realities which are promised to all who place their faith and hope in Jesus. He did not deny his suffering. But he refused to let it define him, cripple him emotionally, or dominate his thinking. I want to help you do the same.
This is why I have written Help! I Have Parkinson’s Disease. The book is designed to help you think from God’s perspective, so that you can work through the difficulties and uncertainties of living with Parkinson’s disease. While I am writing as one living with Parkinson’s, this book is not so much about my experience but more about how the sufficient Word of God brings clarity and insight into living with and honoring the Lord through the disease.
Perhaps you are not the one with this disease, but instead a caregiver, friend, or family member of someone battling Parkinson’s. This mini-book is also for you. While it will provide some helps and tips for living with this disease and trying to slow its progression, most importantly it is my prayer that your faith will be strengthened as we look to the Lord together.
[Editor’s Note: Nearly one million people in the United States are living with Parkinson’s Disease. For this reason, we are pleased to be able to offer biblical hope and help through this new addition to the Lifeline mini-book family. Like every title in this series, there is a gracious gospel call to the non-Christian reader naturally woven into the writing, thus making this resource a useful outreach tool and conversation starter.]