Paving the way for hope
Have you ever wondered how God could take the good, the hard, and the impossible surprises in your life and use them to infuse hope in the life of someone who is journeying through a hard situation?
For hope to rise to the top of any difficulty, we need to know that God is fully present, and will remain wholly faithful in every situation we step into and journey through.
Hope in Christ gives us not only the desire for an expected end; but the assurance that God will use everything we have gone through, and everything we will go through for His glory and our good.
Hope in Christ comes with the assurance that He will meet me in the mundane dailies of life and is fully trustworthy in my darkest hour of need.
Anxiety is often a barrier that mutes out the hope that is offered us as Christ followers.
The anxiety trap
Magnetic Resonance Imaging. MRI. When I heard the doctor say these three letters in sequence I immediately went into a cold sweat, felt labored breathing, and knew that extreme anxiety was coming swift on its heels.
Going into my first MRI many years ago held no fear for me; as I had no idea what to expect. As I laid calmly on my back on the narrow, sliding, metal table I saw this test as a new experience that would get me the information, I needed to find a diagnosis. As the technician slowly, slid me towards the entrance of the tube he handed me a corded, rubber bulb. Little did I know that this was to be my lifeline.
“If for any reason you need to exit the tube, just press this bulb and we will pull you out.” He said with exactness.
I placed the bulb under my folded hands, within reach; but not expecting I would need such a rescue. Wide-eyed, I slowly was slid into the tube. This was my first mistake. Why hadn’t I been told to close my eyes! As I examined my rather-close surroundings, I could feel my heart rate increase. With arms folded in front of me, I felt my breathing rise to a new alarm level. Instantly I knew that laying in a tube, enclosed on all sides was not for me!
The loud-jolty banging jarred me into reality, reminding me that I needed to be still; but nothing I did, stilled the rapid beat of my heart. Realizing a full-on panic attack was about to begin I pressed the bulb, knowing that my rescue would be imminent; but it wasn’t.
I pressed with greater fervor, but to no avail. From where I laid in the cylindrical tube, I could see the window with the technicians chatting it up, laughing at one another. No matter how many times I pressed the bulb they did not heed my call of distress. By the time my MRI was finished I was a petrified, tearful mess; they couldn’t pull me out fast enough. The technicians looked at me like I had birthed a horn on my head while I was in the machine.
“Are you okay?” One technician asked me.
Through great distress I replied. “No, I’m not okay. You promised me that if I pressed this bulb, you would pull me out of the machine.”
“But you didn’t press it!” He insisted.
When I shared that I had pressed it repeatedly, they said they had never heard it. You know what I was thinking, “That’s because you were all chatting it up, while I was dying in your death-trap machine!” But I didn’t say that. Instead the technician picked up the corded bulb and pressed it, to prove to me that the failure was on my end; but as the technician pressed the bulb, nothing happened.
I had been given a faulty lifeline. I was depending on this to bring me to a place of safety, when all along it didn’t even work.
Plunged into fear
Recently after an early morning trip to the Emergency Room, after the doctor had done all the routine tests, he casually mentioned that he needed to do an MRI of my brain to get a clearer picture of what was going on. Immediately my upper body went into a cold sweat. My heart began to gallop.
I had been plunged into fear which caused me to begin negotiations with the physician and his staff.
“MRI’s and I are not friends!” I exclaimed.
Hearing myself voice aloud my fear, I instantly felt a new level of anxiety swiftly rising over me like a blinding tidal wave. The claustrophobic confinement of my first tube experience was never far from me.
I received minimal assurance when I heard the doctor order a light sedation for my upcoming procedure. Being completely knocked out was what I wanted; but I knew that wasn’t practical, so reluctantly I agreed to take the sedative he ordered.
When the physicians team left my room, a sense of foreboding dread attached itself like barnacles to my mind. It was as if I had hit the PLAY button, and a vivid picture of my first MRI played uninterrupted in my mind; instantly thrusting me into the dark enclosure with no rescue. I could tangibly feel fear, tip-toing into my room to snatch away my peace.
I had survived many MRI’s after my first, but none of them was free from this heavy weight of panic and anxiety.
Tunneling in to hope
As I looked down at my clenched fists, I knew that I wanted to turn the course of my fear around. I no longer wanted to live in dread, fearful that a doctor would request an MRI to aid in their diagnosis. With this new determination I began to pray and ask God for help. I knew my fears were valid and were most likely being triggered as a PTSD response from my first devastating event; but it was time to take truth and layer it over my fear as an antidote to change. God desperately wanted to minister to me with his presence; in this moment of panic, fear and real anxiety.
After admitting my fear to God, my first decision towards change was to admit my fear and share it with others. I texted my family and friends, asking them to pray for me. I wanted victory over this machine and that wouldn’t come if I gave in to my embarrassment and kept my anxiety to myself.
This test was important, there was no escape. After admitting my fear and sharing it with others, I paused and turned my heart and mind again towards the God of all comfort.
“God, comfort me right now by removing the apprehension I am feeling. Wipe away any hint of anxiety and fear and fill my mind and soul with You. Your all-pervading Presence, Your peace that surpasses all comprehension, Your never-ending mercies, O Lord; for they are new every single morning.
I praise You God! Oh, how great is Your faithfulness. You see me. You know me. You are for me. You, O Lord are enough for me. My trust is in You. I place my trust in Your goodness, rest in Your ability to know all things; and in this You will help me to endure all things.”
By the time I got to the imaging department the effects of the drug did not feel like it had worked as fast as I had wanted. A nurse had to interrupt a prior test to give me the tiny, white sedating-pill to make sure I had it for the MRI; but when she told me that it would take a good 30-40 minutes to work, panic set in again as my MRI was a mere 20 minutes away; there wasn’t enough time for this tiny life-saving pill to do it’s work in such a short time.
I had to swallow my rising frustration as I had made it clear to the doctor and nursing staff what my needs were, and here I was getting the medicine in a time frame that didn’t even have time to work. Once again, I had to choose to quiet my heart.
“God, You are here with me. You know that I want this medication to remove this anxiety from me; but ultimately You are the One who takes away anxiety. Do that for me right now. In You, O Lord, are all the seeds of righteousness. Grow in me the truth of who You are, the truth of who I am as Your daughter and the truth that You work on behalf of Your children’s needs. I am admitting right now that I need You God. Surround me with Your presence and Your peace.”
Worshiping in the tunnel
As I left my test to be wheeled to the imagining department, I remembered a hint that the RN told me before leaving the floor. “Don’t look at the whole MRI. Take it in segments. Ask the technician to talk you through it, telling you how long each segment is.” I knew that if I could take one minute at a time and not look at the entire process that would help me get through this test.
As I talked to Will, the technician, he agreed to talk to me throughout my procedure. As he was about to push me into the tube, he gently handed me the corded bulb.
“Is this my way of escape?” I asked jokingly.
He laughed, “Give it a pump!”
As I did a loud alarm sounded throughout the room.
“Well that works!” I laughed. Relieved.
Just as he was ready to slide me in, he placed a large headset on my ears. “What kind of music would you like to listen to today?”
My response was only one word. “Christian.”
I closed my eyes, determined not to look at my surroundings as I felt the slow movement of being slid into the dreaded tube; but to my amazement, the dread was gone.
As Will spoke to me from his place behind the large plate-glass window, a music rose louder and louder in my headset. Suddenly, I felt my lips break into a huge smile as I recognized the Christian artist and song bursting through my headset.
The words played over and over in my ears like a balm of comfort and worship. At one point I found myself beaming, as the reverberating bang was in perfect sync with the percussion of the song.
As Will, the technician promised, he talked me through each new stage of the test. As the music continued to reverberate through my headset, I felt enfolded in the perfect care of God. The truth of the words being played could not have given me any greater gift of peace.
A holy delight rose from me as I imagined lifting my arms in praise to God. I wondered if Will understood that his tube had become a place of worship. A sanctuary where God was being adored. I listened in sheer awe, as the scales of fear and anxiety fell away from me.
A miracle was happening in my soul at the very same time that a magnetic resonance imaging was occurring of my brain. The worship of Almighty God was happening in my most dreaded environment. The MRI machine had turned into a pathway for God to show up and show off His glory. This medical test had brought me smack into a spiritual test. I had come to a crossroad; fear or hope, and I had chosen to allow God to infuse hope into this hard situation.
What about you?
What have you been looking at to be your lifeline? If you have chosen it to be anything but Jesus, it will prove to be faulty. Jesus always regards our plea for more of Himself. He is always present, going into the hard places of our lives, with us.
Nothing is ever defective about God. God is a dependable source of comfort and hope; when life’s circumstances produce nothing but agitation, anxiety and apprehension.
I encourage you to tunnel into hope today. Look at the situation that has you feeling stuck, that place that makes you feel like you can’t turn it around to be something good, the past that causes you to spiral down into despair. God is asking you to trust Him in the places of your life where anxiety sneaks in and overwhelms your senses. That place where apprehension grows and takes root. It is here, in this place, that God desires for you to turn the hard realities of life into a sanctuary, where worship rises out of life’s impossible situations.
“God, I come asking that You exchange my apprehension for the ability to place my trust in You. Take away my sense of dread and worry, replace it with a heart filled with peace. Remove the fear that looms large over me right now, God, for it feels like it will consume me.
I ask You to wipe away any hint of anxiety and fear, fill my mind and soul with the truth that You are with me right now, Your all-pervading presence and peace is at my disposal.
As I yield to You, I know that Your peace will exceeds all my understanding. Your never-ending mercies, O Lord, are new every single morning.
I praise You God! Oh, how great is Your faithfulness. You see me. You know me. You are for me. You, O Lord are enough for me right now in this hard place that I am in. I trust You God. I place my trust in Your goodness, rest in Your ability to know all things; and in this You will help me to endure all things. You, O Lord, are my source of hope in troubled times.” In Jesus Mighty Name -The Giver of Hope, Amen
Don’t depend on a faulty lifeline. Tunnel in – to Jesus
LINDA JANE DINGELDEIN: DIFFERENT BY DESIGN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LINDA JANE DINGELDEIN
“Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!” Psalm 96:9 (NKJV)