Heather Burcham, 23

“There is nothing we can do” are terrifying words to hear from a doctor. With radiation, chemotherapy, transplants, transfusions, and medications, there is always something a doctor can do—but not for ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. My boyfriend’s father, Jim, was diagnosed with ALS not long after Christmas.

Heather & Jim FTREverything has changed since his diagnosis. We spend more time with my boyfriend’s parents. Each day, we hold our breath, waiting to see if his dad is the same or if a little something more has been lost. Is his speech slurred? Is he a bit less energetic? Is he having a harder time getting up from the couch? Is he coughing a bit more? We worry that my boyfriend could inherit the disease, even though ALS is not genetic. The biggest question in all of our minds is Why? Only about 5,000 people in the United States have ALS—5,000 out of millions. Why Jim? With all the diseases that have cures and treatments, why ALS, for which “there is nothing we can do”?

We feel angry, sad, numb, tired, hopeless. But through it all, Jim continues to love, laugh, and live with an open heart and a fighting spirit, relying on God for strength every step of the way. He loves to read and finds encouragement and hope in the message of God’s love. He spends quality time with his family and keeps everyone laughing with his never-waning playful sense of humor. Yet, as the disease progresses, the many little losses can become frustrating and disheartening for Jim and for all of us. Then the why? echoes in our minds a little louder.

Heather-David-Jim FTRI ask God, “Why?” Though I would love to hear God’s voice explaining it all to me, God speaks to me through scripture, asking me to trust: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5, NIV). I hear God telling me to trust that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28a, NIV) and that God will be with us and see us through (Isaiah 43:2). Most of all, God asks me to trust that some things are withheld from my limited human understanding and that God does all things in love. One day, God will fill me in: “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known,” (1 Corinthians 13:12b, NIV). Until then, I rely on prayer and scripture for answers when I ask why? “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4, NIV).



Write a letter to God, explaining the question with which you are struggling. Let God know how you feel. Ask God, “Why?” Then let go of the questions, and give them to God. Write on index cards the scripture verses above or some of your favorites. Post them in your room, keep them in your wallet or purse, and proclaim God’s promises in your life. God’s love will bring you hope and comfort.

Heather Burcham, 23 , of Plymouth, Michigan, works as a behavior therapist with children who have autism and writes for The Saline Reporter. She loves to dance, write, and see the world, but her favorite time is spent with her loved ones.

—from  devozine  (March/April 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

Back To Home

To Order Devozine Magazine, call 1.800.972.0433.