December 21st 2018 my life changed. I think it could have been Mary Poppins fault, but I’m not sure. I didn’t really want to be at the movie theater watching Mary Poppins, but I did want to be with my 9-year-old daughter next to me. It was the culmination of a daddy daughter date night. So far, so good until Mary Poppins. First, I began to have chest pains, then shortness of breath, followed by dizziness. Eventually my arms began to go numb. Yep, I thought as Redd Foxx used to say, “this is the big one.” Fortunately for me, my wife had arrived at the theatre with the other kids and I could escape. I immediately headed to the hospital because after all, I was dying. When I got there, they hooked me up to the EKG machine and took some blood. I was for sure that I was having a heart attack and then they told me……………….. “There is nothing wrong with you.” Hmmmm. Then what the heck just happened? Anxiety, they said…… I have never liked Mary Poppins, but this seemed a little over the top.
In Everything Give Thanks
If you have never had a panic attack, then to hear about one will sound totally irrational. In fact, mine was totally irrational, but nevertheless very real. All of the symptoms I mentioned were legit, including very high blood pressure when I got to the ER. When I arrived at the ER, I thought that it was all over and that I was literally going to die. It was awful! So why would I say “thank you” to God for the attack? Paul says that “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Paul didn’t say that from a position of comfort, but from a life full of persecution, abuse, and slander. Persecution of course is a lot different from a panic attack, but the principle is still the same that no matter what the situation, we can be thankful to the Lord. He has saved us and has given us an eternal home with Him in heaven if we have trusted in Christ.
God’s Grace is Sufficient
I don’t really know why I had the panic attack. Maybe it is just a part of getting older, like the wrinkles on my forehead or the hair falling out of the top of my head. Maybe it’s no different than the ache I feel in my back and my reaction time slowing. All of those things I call “problems” are little reminders that this body will need a resurrection someday. Maybe they aren’t really problems. Maybe they are graces reminding me not to put all of my eggs in this temporary earthly basket. None of us will be long for this life. We would all do well to remind ourselves that we are like Bunyan’s pilgrim, encountering hiccups (including panic attacks) along our path until the day that we are fully redeemed. I am determined by God’s grace to embrace my weaknesses and let them prepare me for the life to come. “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14). It’s the end of April 2019 now and I have been dealing with some anxiety ever since but by the grace of God it is very manageable. For those of you who deal with anxiety, remember to thank God during the difficult times, ask Him to teach you and remember that you belong to Him. “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.'” (II Cor. 12:9-10)
All Scriptures from the NASB Bible