About a week ago something happened to me. As I was driving home from work I had, I guess what you would call an anxiety attack. I had never experienced one before so as you might imagine it was pretty scary. I couldn’t breathe; I felt I had to gasp for air and no matter how much air I breathed in my lungs would not hold enough. I struggled to find oxygen, and in the midst of my panic I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to breathe. I managed to pull over and compose myself and when I had finally determined I was ok and that the world hadn’t ended I continued driving home.
Later that same night I still felt like my breathing hadn’t returned to normal and decided to go to the hospital; I honestly had only the worst case scenario in mind. Was it my heart? Maybe it’s my lungs? What if it has something to do with my blood? I could only sit in the waiting room and slowly worry myself to the next anxiety attack. The shortness of breath was frustrating me. When I finally saw the doctor and after a couple of tests it was determined there was absolutely nothing wrong with me physically. In fact, I’m quite healthy. Quite honestly, I think that worried me even more; if I had some sort of physical ailment then that means I could potentially just take a pill and make it go away… but I was dealing with something quite different.
The doctor and my wife both agreed I needed to calm down; it was quite probable I was dealing with some sort of stress or fatigue.
A couple of days ago it happened again. The shortness of breath came back stronger than ever and in the midst of all this I became so frustrated and angry that I remember praying as loud as I could, “God, why is this happening to me?!” I started venting all of my frustration at God. And while I was arguing with Him he softly and calmly reminded me of this passage in the Bible:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)
He completely disarmed me with that and I was left speechless for a moment. In an instant he overwhelmed me with his presence and made me understand that I needed to simply trust Him. I gathered myself and prayed “God, I’m sorry. I’m sure there is a reason in all this; I don’t understand it now, but you have never failed me so I have no reason to doubt. What little breath I have please let me use it to honor and praise you.” It’s in these times of weakness and doubt that the “power of Christ rests upon me.” I have decided to take this as a thorn that reminds me to not depend on my own strength. That just as I need air to breathe I more so need God to be fulfilled.
I still get shortness of breath at least once a day. Even as I type this I can feel it creeping in… but I realize I need to stop focusing on it. I need to stop stressing over petty things; stop worrying about tomorrow. I need to remember that I cannot depend on me to solve my problems. I need to depend on Christ. I need to rely on his grace. I need to learn how to breathe again. Inhale and exhale slowly and trust that God will be there when I feel overwhelmed.