“It’s not fair. We prayed about it.”
It was Saturday night, and Chase’s defeated voice echoed through the darkness of their room. We had – rather impetuously – bought another Chinese Water Dragon the day before, and we had high hopes that the new little lizard, Jerry, would become reptilian BFF’s with Tom, our friendly Dragon.
Not so much. Saturday morning, on the way home from Cole’s swim practice, I received a text from my hubby. My stomach plummeted at the message.
“Tom is attacking Jerry. Chase is upset. You should prepare Cole that we’ll have to take Jerry back.”
Apparently Tom was top lizard in the cage and didn’t want to share cricket-hunting space. I felt terrible for our boys and also that we’d have to return the lizard to its tiny cage at the pet store.
When I gently shared the bad news, running my hands along his shoulders and lanky arms, Cole’s expression drooped like well-worn jeans. He sputtered a couple of questions while sadness and confusion wrestled across his 8-year old face.
Then – an idea. My sister had been planning to get a pair of Bearded Dragons for a while and had a tank ready to go…a huge, beautiful tank. My nephew Cody loved holding Tom when they visited, and we’d shared various fish and reptiles throughout the years.
I tried to mask my excitement as I called Mindy, praying the lizard exchange would work out. She agreed and finished setting up her tank. My parents were coming into town that day, and they would take the smaller lizard back to Mindy’s house on Monday, where he would have a big, beautiful new home.
But that evening, as we put the kids to bed, Chase’s hurting heart whispered a familiar question. It’s not fair. We prayed about it. Friday night we prayed that the lizards would be fast friends, and he didn’t understand why it hadn’t worked out.
I sat down on Chase’s bed, knowing Cole was on his top bunk tuned into my words. “God had other plans, and you know what guys? I think they’re better plans. Aunt Mindy has a huge tank and she had all the stuff for it, and Cody gets to have his own Dragon. And we can visit it when we go to Cape Coral…” The Holy Spirit tapped my soul, tieing my words together with the Word and my own life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
I have my own plans, too, and I think they’re pretty good. They sure don’t include dealing with life-altering panic and anxiety. They don’t include erratic heartbeats and everyday worries rising up high and pushing me low, crippling and darkening my days.
I had my first panic attack 4 years ago and have struggled with the heart-pounding, chest-tightening condition from time to time since. Doctors found it’s hormone-related and from years of using an inhaler for asthma, which depletes the adrenal system and – for me – created an ultra-sensitive, misfiring fight-or-flight reflex. When I combine that with too much caffeine, excess sugar in my diet, and not getting adequate sleep, I set myself up for palpitating problems.
Average car rides on I-75 can become nightmares of worry, and the cloak of midnight forces me to fully rest in Him and grab onto the comfort from His word. “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19)
During a very difficult drive home from Cape Coral last week, with my heart racing and cotton-dry mouth, I cried out with the same words my 6-year old son had just spoken.
It’s not fair, Lord! I’ve prayed about this.
Logically, I know life isn’t fair; nothing is owed to me, not even the breath in my body as it caught and tore and fed my erratic-beating heart. And during the worst times I pray and cling to scripture like a tree frog to a bright porch light. Sometimes my prayers bring immediate peace and a release of grateful emotion as God rescues me. Other times He holds my hand and carries me through difficult moments that shake my body and shake my soul.
Yet in my afflictions, I learn that He is my all, my strength, unchanging, faithful, full of peace and comfort and more grace than I deserve. I love God with all that I am, but He’s teaching me to TRUST Him in every moment of life – anxious or joyous.
“Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.” ~ Psalm 119:66 & 67
If you suffer from anxiety and panic, know that God’s word is true and faithful. Turn your eyes to Him, read His word, and pray for His peace to cover you. He will get you through. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” ~ Isaiah 26:3