“I just want to be able to breathe without hurting,” I said through tears, voice quaking under the weight of the pressure in my chest. “I know, babe,” he said, and by the sound of his voice I could tell he felt utterly helpless.
My inner critic snapping, “This is you. This is your mind, isn’t it? This is your problem, your anxiety, your fear. Why can’t you get a grip and just calm down? You’re doing this to yourself, you know. If you thought your way into this, you can think your way out.”
The voices of my dear husband, friends, and family echoed faintly behind this voice in my mind. The one I let have far too much authority far too often. The one that steals my peace, my joy, and as of late–the very breath in my lungs.
You’re probably thinking that sounds dramatic. Maybe it is. But for about a week now, breathing has been cumbersome. The amount of anxiety and stress I have felt became too much, I suppose.
I was taken off guard by it. I woke up Monday morning feeling as if I had been punched in the chest, and the feeling has not left yet. I prayed (albeit, not fervently) and became easily frustrated. All the while so aware of my response, and constantly asking myself if it was honoring to God.
See, I believe that experiences like this are designed to bring us closer to God, and deepen our faith. That doesn’t mean we do nothing about the pain, but in my experience, what we do FIRST about the pain says a lot about the condition of our hearts.
What we run to when we are suffering, even if it is a relatively minor inconvenience such as my chest pain, says something about where our trust lies.
As I pondered this idea amidst shallow breaths this week, I remembered something that I heard once: God is not surprised by anything.
What do you think about that statement?
For me, it gives me an unprecedented level of peace. Knowing that, “Oh yeah, this pain caught me off guard, but God is not at all surprised. In fact, he knows why I have this pain. He knows everything about me, and He loves me, and He is good. So I can trust Him, even when I am in pain that I do not understand and cannot find an explanation for.”
When I look at my problems through the lens of God’s sovereignty, it reminds me that I can trust Him, because He knows best.
That doesn’t mean the rubber doesn’t have to hit the road and I just dwell in my pain. I have specific plans to do something to address the issue. There are some “action items,” if you will, when this type of thing comes up.
But at the end of the day, and at the end of MY days, I want to be able to look back and know that my life glorified my Father in Heaven. No matter my circumstances.
So maybe whatever you’re going through right now seems like it came out of nowhere, and you don’t understand how it could have possibly happened. But remember Proverbs 19:21:
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”
And also, Romans 8:28:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”
So we can rest in knowing that although we may not know what will happen in our lives, God is never taken off guard by anything, and our job is to stay surrendered to Him and trust Him with our lives.