“I don’t want to die.”
These are my forced, barely whispered words between gasps for air as Howell and I argued (again) about whether to call an ambulance and have (another) visit to the ER.
It sounds dramatic, but even now, weeks later I can still remember the fear that gripped me.
I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t stand, couldn’t think straight.
Because the only thoughts running through my brain were 1) our hospitals are over maxed capacity; 2) if I go to the hospital, they’ll put me on a ventilator; and 3) if I go in, I might not come out.
Fear. Fear. Fear.
I was truly terrified.
Obviously, I didn’t die, though I did feel like death for a while.
And while I did have COVID pneumonia, my symptoms weren’t actually related to the virus.
And while all of this did lead to another surgery this year (after the almost baseball-sized tumor on my thyroid this summer), I did not have to stay in the hospital this time.
But I keep coming back to that moment, to those words, to that level of gut-wrenching fear.
What if I don’t come home? What if I never see Howell’s face again? Never hold my girl?
I can think of at least two other life-threatening moments I have experienced (this was not), and the stark contrast between my fear here and the peace I felt in those moments is astounding.
Peace or fear. I get to choose, right?
I have experienced and witnessed a lot of fear lately.
Fear falls into two camps, one related to our (potential) circumstances and one related to people. I’m hoping to dive into this second one in a Part 2 post, but for now—and for this specific situation—my fear was definitely about a potential circumstance. What might happen.
Years ago, Jackie Mize called FEAR False Evidence Against Reality.
Isn’t that so true? What we fear almost never comes to reality.
Kris Vallotton says it like this: “Fear is imagining the future without God.”
Let’s look at Jesus’s words to us in John 14:27. He says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled; neither let them be afraid.”
How can He tell us not to have troubled hearts, not to be afraid?
Because He has given us his peace.
We have the peace of Jesus.
We have the gift of the Holy Spirit’s presence at all times.
We have the promise of God’s goodness and faithfulness always.
What better news could He give us? His Word tells us that no weapon formed against us shall prosper (IS. 54:17).
But here’s the question… Here’s where we have to get real: Do we really believe His word? Do we believe what He says is true?
I have struggled with this question more in the last year than most recent years, specifically in the area of healing.
Because sometimes God doesn’t heal in the way we want or ask, no matter how firmly we believed or how repeatedly we prayed.
And because sometimes hard stuff still happens to us, even when we prayed it wouldn’t.
In these moments, it feels like God’s word isn’t true.
But we have to choose. We choose to say yes to His word, yes to His nature, yes to His character. We stand on His faithfulness in the past. We stand on His sovereignty and the good plans He has for us.
It’s okay to ask the hard questions. How are you being real with Him if you don’t?
Ask and listen—and then trust and believe.
And if you find your heart troubled by present or potential circumstances, don’t give in to the fear. Embrace the peace that is available.
p.s. If you need a pep talk for overcoming fear and embracing what God says about you, read Romans 8 every day this week. I promise you’ll be encouraged.