'I was battling a spiritual disease far worse than multiple sclerosis'
Karyn Finneseth · Mar 01, 2017
Until May 2015, I was a healthy, physically fit wife and mother of four. A month later, our family faced drastic changes when my health dramatically declined.
At first, small problems occurred. Eventually, I lost the ability to think clearly and walk. MRIs confirmed demyelination from multiple sclerosis—a loss of the sheath insulating nerve cells in my brain and spinal cord.
With a health care background, I knew the devastation of this disease. Medications and treatments offered limited effectiveness combined with a long list of negative side effects. I was unwilling to accept this prognosis, yet where was I to go?
Every aspect of my life was affected, even hindering my close relationship with Jesus. Without cognitive ability to communicate with Him, my prayers faded. Some mornings I’d wake up and could only say, “God, I just need Your help to get through this day.”
I knew James 5 says to “call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil. And such a prayer in faith would heal the sick.”
I knew. But I didn’t want to. I was battling another disease far worse than multiple sclerosis. This disease takes different forms, some easily concealed, some blatantly obvious. I could identify it in others, yet couldn’t see it in myself.
This disease is “Pride,” a spiritual cancer eating up love and contentment, even common sense. My center of gravity had switched from God to self. I made myself really big and God very, very small. And out of pride flowed a host of physical problems.
I didn’t want to go before the elders because I would have to admit I needed help. I convinced myself that not bothering anyone was good somehow, that I didn’t need someone going to God for me. I could ask Him for healing on my own. But I simply was unwilling to go before the Lord.
God knew what I needed and met me there. He provided mentors who came alongside our family, who sought us out by coming to our home. They talked about asking the elders for prayer and choosing to give thanks in these circumstances. I was thankful for a loving and supportive family, good friends, and for having some function left, but I couldn’t truly thank God for this disease process.
I struggled over the next 2½ months. Struggled to walk, struggled to think, struggled to be a wife and a mother, things once so natural and simple for me. Finally hitting rock bottom, I decided to humble myself and do what the Bible says.
I went there hoping to gain a little function to do things I enjoyed, but the elders approached it differently. They actually prayed that at some point in my life there would be no evidence of this disease again.
While they prayed, I thought, “You have no idea about this disease. This is not one that’s healed.” But, thank God, they truly believed God is bigger than medical knowledge and science.
The rest of the week was horrible. I declined physically. I cried. I raved, “This just proves this whole ‘going before the elders’ idea is a historical thing not meant for us today. Healing doesn’t happen anymore.”
I got bitter. I got angry. And I got worse. The beauty of God is that you can’t hide from Him. The friends and mentors He chose gave me resources about nutrition, lifestyle, and choices that were affecting me adversely.
Hearing about nutrition again and again irritated me. I felt my friends oversimplified a complex disease that doctors and scientists had spent their lives studying. I thought, “Before this happened, I was the picture of health, so who are you to tell me what to do? Who are you to tell me something the medical professionals didn’t address or bring to my attention?”
Pride. I elevated the world’s view of science, health, and disease. I made God smaller and smaller. My pride ran rampant, but God wouldn’t leave me in that place.
Lying on the ground unable to walk, with ugliness flowing from me, I cried out to God, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live inside this body that I no longer know how to work. I can’t be a wife and mother like this. It’s not fair to my family.” I confessed, “I’ve always desired to be used for Your purposes, but I don’t know how to anymore.”
After my brutal honesty, God pointed me to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. “Always be joyful, never stop praying, and in all circumstances, give Me thanks.” I cried out, “Today I’m choosing to give You thanks for this disease process, even though I don’t feel thankful.”
Soon I picked up a book from my friends, skimming pages until I came to the “outlook with nutrition and lifestyle changes on brain diseases.” Should I make some changes? What did I have to lose?
Making nutritional changes was exhausting, but small changes became big changes over time. One day the mental fog and headaches disappeared. My reasoning and research ability returned. Next, my hands and feet regained mobility.
I was so excited I didn’t recognize God’s healing process until people said, “Karyn, this is the hand of God. The elders prayed, and God put you on the path to healing.”
God was transforming how we lived, what we spent money on, what our entertainment was, how I worked. These changes caused a new struggle as I questioned if I wanted to do this my whole life.
I went to the Lord. He taught me a hard-to-hear truth from 1 Corinthians 10:23, “You have the right to do anything, but not everything is good for you.” And 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, Who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for you were bought with a high price.”
These scriptures made me aware that I approached my lifestyle and nutrition as a means to pleasure, rather than a matter of stewardship. I asked Him to forgive me and free me from what had gripped me for so long.
Although these truths now held me, I needed to embrace new tools and discipline for healing. Rudolph Virchow said, “It’s the curse of humanity that it learns to tolerate even the most horrible situations by habituation.” I had to ask for help from the very people I had belittled. And they willingly mentored me in nutrition, lifestyle changes, and great life lessons.
God used Joyce Kaping and Colleen Anderson at Farm Girl Fresh to help me know what “processed foods,” “pure foods,” and “whole foods” meant (FarmGirlFresh.com). They reset my perspective on a healthy diet, and taught my family principles to create a permanently healthy lifestyle.
This uncommon path seemed crazy at first. The results didn’t happen immediately, but it made all the difference in my journey back to health. I worked hard, took responsibility for choices within my power, and dealt with the idols of convenience and comfort.
After applying the Farm Girl Fresh principles, I experienced repair throughout my whole body. What caused dread became good and fun for my entire family. At Farm Girl Fresh, Joyce and Colleen help plant seeds to reap a harvest of physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Looking back on this trial, I’ve learned life-changing lessons. One clear lesson is that whatever I allow into my life has consequences. Media, conversation, food—anything that infiltrates mind and body is never neutral. It has consequences.
I never intended to become sick or proud. But cumulative choices engaging in selfish pleasure over my lifetime caught up to me at 38 years old. As Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Spiritual pride is the main spring of all other errors, and until this disease is cured, medicines are applied in vain to all other diseases.”
I’d love to say I’m over pride, but I still struggle. When discouraged, I feel I’m stuck in pride permanently. But when I am honest with God, He brings hope.
Pride is my greatest enemy, and humility is my greatest friend. I must embrace humility. Pondering the One Who came to serve, not be served, radically changes my perspective. Humility is not acquired quickly, but takes a lifetime of faith and work.
God taught me to go to the mirror of His Word and rightly see the individual staring back at me. Even when I’m replacing harmful input with wholesome, I need to consult God for wisdom, praying for the Holy Spirit to reset my perspective on what is pure in His sight.
Every time I open myself up to God, He reveals Himself to me. God could have healed me any way He wanted, but He chose a discipline process that keeps me coming to Him. He draws me closer through His Word, prayer, and repentance, an ongoing process of restoring my physical and spiritual health. He’s teaching me love and compassion for others beyond my own capacity.
I stand in awe of the Lord’s ability to change my perspective, to heal. I was so deceived by this disease. I thought it could only bring destruction. God flipped my world upside down and showed me that He gave me a gift. What seemed awful, He is using for greater good. He took my brokenness and transformed it into beauty.
Karyn, her husband Robert, and their four children are members from Litchfield, Minnesota. Farm Girl Fresh has a video about Karyn, which you can watch by clicking the image below.