"I doubt you will ever sing again."The specialist at UCLA left Jo Franz alone in the examining room with tears filling her eyes, stunned by his matter-of-fact statement. Then a peace calmed her soul. That still small voice within said, "Trust Me even though you're frightened."
Jo's singing ministry had begun over twenty years ago, shortly before she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Then one morning, she awoke with her voice distorted beyond recognition. Her husband couldn't understand her! It sounded as if she was on a respirator. Three doctors concurred that the multiple sclerosis was attacking nerves in her brain, relaying incorrect messages to the vocal chords.
Answering the phone was difficult. If people understood her, they asked why she was depressed or crying. Shopping was the worst. Clerks craned their necks to hear her, then quickly looked away when she tried to speak.
With each struggle, she turned to God. "Lord I don't know why my voice must be like this, but I know You have allowed it, and I give thanks to You in it as 1 Thessalonians 5:18 exhorts. Teach me as You will."
Four university students desired to interview someone who had experienced loss due to a disease. After talking to her for only a few minutes about her inability to speak and sing, one asked, "Why aren't you angry or depressed?"
Silently she thanked God for ordaining that moment.
"I'm not angry or depressed," she said, "because I have a relationship with God's Son, Jesus Christ. I know He loved me enough to die for me. Since He did that, I know His love won't allow anything to happen to me that He can't use somehow for my good.
"The Bible promises: 'God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose' (Rom. 8:28). I'm not saying I don't feel sad and grieve the loss of my voice. But God has proven Himself to me through other difficult experiences. He is trustworthy."
Nine months after the MS attack began, she and her husband drove to the California Sierras to ski. As they rode the lift, she leaned over to her husband, hoping he could hear her. "I'm so excited to be skiing again!" Her mouth dropped wide open in amazement--her voice was clear!
All day she kept saying, "Do you hear that? My voice is normal!"
It thrilled Jo to speak and sing again. But what if the Lord hadn't blessed her with the return of her voice? Would she have continued to praise Him? She says, "I believe I can heartily answer, 'Yes!' I knew a joy during those months that is experienced during suffering and loss. It emanates from peace passing understanding that says God is a God of love, and He is in control.
Thank You, Lord, that You can always be trusted.
"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised" (Job 1:21).
Jo Franz first wrote the article for our magazine Women Alive.