“Lord, how much is enough?” I swallowed against the lump in my throat. For three years or so iritis had attacked my eyes, but this year the inflammation had spread, affecting my back and other joints, finally resulting in the diagnosis of ankylosing spondlytlits, a degenerative auto-immune disease. As tasks I once performed with with ease—cooking cleaning, teaching my kids, driving, even typing—became a chore or close to impossible—I grieved the loss of normalcy, and struggled with my increased dependence on others. Recent aggressive treatments with severe side effects had further debilitated me.
“Lord, what’s next on this path? Well, maybe I don’t want to know,” I sighed and slumped against the sofa. As my husband lit the Advent candles and the rest of the family gathered around for devotions, I closed my eyes and gave myself up to the raging question in my mind: “Why, Lord, why?”
I heard the kids grab their Advent calendars. My teen’s voice reading Mary’s words pierced my fog of fear and self-pity: “Be it unto me according to Thy word, O Lord.” I clenched my fists. “Be it unto me according to Thy word, O Lord?” How could Mary utter those words? Was that really her first reaction when the angel told her she would be with child? Did she even want to be so favored? Did she struggle with the will of God? How did she get to the point of such acceptance and submission? The questions swirled through my mind as our family devotions continued. When we bowed in prayer, I cried out in my heart, “Lord, help me. I want Mary’s words to be mine. I want so much to be able to say, ‘Be it unto me according to Thy word, O Lord.’”
As I followed my family to the nativity scene in the family room, my pain hadn’t diminished, but I sensed a spark of hope. For the Child of the Promise whom Mary had borne had also wrestled with His Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane to the point of sweating drops of blood. And because the One called Emmanuel--God with us—walks with me, I can say, “Be it unto me according to Thy will O Lord,” no matter what.