was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis in mid 1991, when I was 35.
At the time we were living in an apartment
while our new house was being built.
It was very cramped, and most of our
things were in storage. There were my wife
Judy, my two sons, aged 4 and 2, and me.
Judy was 8 months pregnant with my third
son. The diagnosis hit me like a
bomb. Unfortunately, I had ready access to
the Internet through work, so I started my
research. The news was generally the
same...all bad. Terminal...gradual
loss of voluntary muscle function...most
patients succumb in two to four
years...presently no treatment...TERMINAL!
I spent many hours after my diagnosis
crying in a dark closet. I didn't
want to burden Judy with my sense of
hopelessness, or let the boys see their
dad falling apart; I did not want them to
remember me as a blubbering mess. So
I retreated to my closet, closed the door,
After the tears ran out, as they are bound
to do, I started praying. Not for a
miraculous cure or a misdiagnosis, but
simply for the strength to get through the
day. Soon I found that I was crying
less, but still spending time in the
closet, talking to God. Then I
stopped going into the closet. The
neat thing about prayer is that you can do
it anywhere. You don't even have to
close your eyes. You can pray at
work. You can pray in bed. You
can pray watching the sun set or the moon
rise. You can pray while driving to
the mall (a good time to pray with your
eyes open...trust me on this).
But my favorite time to pray is in the
morning, while Judy and the boys are still
asleep. I roll into my office to get
dressed, but before I turn on the lights,
I spend some time talking to God first.
Generally, I first thank Him for the day
I've just had, and for all of the
blessings in my life. Then I ask for
strength to get through the challenges,
both known and unknown, in the day ahead.
It is said that God will never give you a
burden greater than you can handle.
I ask Him for the strength necessary to
meet that day's challenges. He knows
what they are.
I have been talking about "me praying for
me". Many will rationalize this as a
self-fulfilling visualization. But I
experienced something in January 1997 that
defies this rationale. My associate
pastor, Rick Baldwin, asked permission in
late 1996 to use me as an example in a
sermon he was preparing on "Joy". I
agreed, although I was curious as to how
he was going to fit me into that topic.
He delivered the sermon on January 5th,
and it was wonderful. He talked
about joy coming from a deep, abiding
trust in God and His son, Jesus Christ.
I did not attend church that day, because
ALS exaggerates your emotions, and I
didn't think Rick's present-day example of
joy ought to be bawling in the back of the
For the next couple of weeks, I noticed
that I was able to stand up more easily.
I stand up for only three things: pulling
my pants up; going to the toilet; and
getting into bed. The rest of the
time, I'm in my chair. When you
stand up that rarely, you are able to
render accurate judgment on the ease with
which you are able to accomplish the task.
I was able to stand more easily, and while
standing, was better balanced.
I mentioned this to Rick, and he replied
that a strange thing had happened on the
day he delivered the sermon. It was
Communion Sunday. After Communion
was served, each group remained at the
altar several minutes longer than usual,
praying. The service, which
generally takes about an hour, lasted
almost 90 minutes. I am not so taken
with myself as to believe that all of
those people were praying for me.
But I do believe that some of them were,
and that their prayers were answered.
© 2007 Douglas R. Jacobson
*** “As of June 6, 2007, Douglas is still
very much alive. He says, “It's
strange (although it shouldn't be) that
every time I get tired of keepin' on
keeping on, I get an e-mail like yours (my
email, asking permission to use Doug’s
story on planting his seeds…Rick).
It has happened more than once, actually
three times. The first time proved
to me the existence of a loving God.
It was about a year after my diagnosis,
and I was in a real funk. I made an
appointment with my associate minister to
discuss what possibly God could have in
mind for me. You know, essentially
the "Why me, Lord?". A half hour
before my appointment, I checked my
e-mail, read it, and printed one note out.
I rolled into my minister's office, showed
him the note, and asked him what else he'd
like to talk about.
You see, the note was from a fellow who
had decided to kill himself. He went
web-surfing for the last time, and
happened on my site, and read my Power of
Prayer. His note was to thank me for
saving his life.
As of that day, I stopped asking
questions, and figure God will call me
home when he's done with me here.