The year is 2001; it is 3:00 am on a Tuesday morning in the ICU unit. The CT scan of my chest, completed. Fear gripped me tighter than the pain that racked my rib cage with each inhaled breath. The doctor returned and said “I have good news and bad. The bad news is that you have multiple pulmonary embolisms.” I did not know then what an embolism was; my mind raced with thoughts of death. The doctor continued, “The good news is that you followed your gut instincts and did not go to sleep, instead called us and you are here being treated.” Somehow those words brought me little comfort, it brought an overwhelming sense of anxiety and tears burst forth flowing out the corners of my eyes.
The doctor pat my hand and said “Don’t worry, you are in good hands.” He began to explain my condition and course of treatment. He might as well have spoken a foreign language, it was like in the Charlie Brown cartoon when the teacher spoke, it was all Greek to me. I could not control the doom and gloom that steam rolled over all reason. Each day that went by I found myself drowning in my own fears. The constant blood testing several times a day, specialists mulling over treatment options among themselves as if I had no input into my care. I became depressed. The enemy was working overtime. Satan had me. He laid claim to my thoughts, my peace and my trust in the outcome of my health.
On Saturday as my son visited, he asked what he could bring to help me feel better. I replied “please bring my Bible.” I had not been to church in years nor gave God any real thought. I was wandering along in control of my own life and that suited me just fine, until I needed him. I did not know what I had expected to find in the Bible to help me but somewhere deep inside I knew this book had the answer, held the secret of reassurance that the doctors, my family and friends could not offer. I turn to the reference pages in my study Bible and look up fear and anxiety; *Isaiah 41:10 & *Philippians 4:6-7 caught my eye. I read them, over and over.
At first it was just scriptures, words, that on the surface seemed to slow my racing thoughts of fear and lessen my anxiety over what was happening; but only for short periods of time. I started to cling to those scriptures and meditate verse by verse on what they really meant. Slowly meaning came to me when I would close my eyes, laid very still and just listen to the verses in my head. They were no longer words on a page, they became arms around me, a gentle, soothing voice caressing my mind, filling me with self-assurance, peace, courage and strength. Two weeks later I was released and faced with new challenges from my diagnosis. I continued to seek God’s word. I started going to the Lord lifting up my fears in prayer; something that I had not done in forever.
During those months of healing, the prodigal daughter had come home. And like the story in the Bible, my heavenly father was over-joyed. Did I face fear, felt anxious, stumble and strayed since then? Most certainly yes. I have had other challenging illnesses. I have heeded my own voice instead of his and always pay the price. What I have learned is this; although I will fall to the nature of the flesh, my heavenly father does not turn away from me. I do not have all the answers, yet I know where to find them. True healing came when I turned to the Great Physician, he had all the treatment I needed.
My prayer: “Praise be, for you are the Great Physician. Father, forgive me when I fall short and let my will supersede your will for my life. I may fall ill in body, mind and spirit, but when I do, through the Holy Spirit, I can turn to you and be healed. Thank you for having the cure for all that ails me, Amen.”
*Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
fear not, for I am with you be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
*Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.