Do you ever have times in your life when everything seems to be going great but it frightens you just a bit? I do! I mean most of my life I seem to be carrying some hefty burdens around and facing some pretty big giants! So when there is a calm and peaceful stretch where everything seems to be going well and life is actually enjoyable, I begin to get nervous. Why do I do this? Am I the only person that feels good times are an omen of bad things to come? It’s like living with an overwhelming sense of a huge cloud of doom slowly heading my way and it will consume me and will blow all the peace out of my life. Let me give an example.
As a teenager I had a lumpectomy preformed on one of my breasts because of some suspicious cellular growth activity. Fortunately the growth was not cancerous and I forgot about it until about thirty years later when that area began to have an accelerated cellular growth again. The decision of the doctors was that I needed to have the growth removed and prepared for surgery. The surgery was scheduled during the month of March. Everything went well and I was relieved…until the next March rolled around.
I was having some severe pain in my side and after some tests were conducted it was decided that I needed to have surgery to clean out some old scar tissue that had formed through the years from previous abdominal surgeries. No biggie, I was told and so again I went under the knife during the month of March. The surgery was long and tedious but the results were good because most of my pain was gone after spending a couple of months recuperating from the major surgery. All was good…until the next March rolled around.
This time I was having some real pain and a low-grade fever. My husband at the time was preparing for a deployment to Iraq and two days before he was to report for military duty he took me to the ER because of my pain. This time, apparently I had an ovarian cyst the size of a grapefruit and not having surgery was not an option. This was weird because I had my last ovary removed the year before during the clean-up of scar tissue. Everyone but me was worried that such a cyst would be cancerous so surgery was performed the day before my husband left and arrangements were made for my parents to come and take care of me and my youngest daughter who was too young to drive. Since we lived in the country my Dad was needed to take her back and forth to school and other activities. This surgery took place; you guessed it, during the month of March. The growth was not cancerous and we all praised God for such good news.
Only this time there was a huge complication however. When the doctor began to remove the staples on my abdomen, the incision was not healed enough and a huge hole was left and not a closed and well healed incision. What was to be a six-week recuperation time became a three-month recuperation. Believe you me, after three surgeries taking place during the month of March the next year when March rolled around I was more than anxious…more like a basket case of fear another surgery would become necessary! Know what I mean?
Needless to say March is not one of my favorite months. So many negative things have happened to me during the month of March! Not only have I had these three surgeries during the month of March, but two more during previous Marches have taken place. I have also had one hospitalization for an illness during March. Then there was the divorce trial…you guessed it, in the month of March.
Maybe it’s time to put things into perspective here. I have lived through sixty March months and bad things happened to me only six times, really that is not all that many times, unless I begin to add up all the bad things that happened to me every month….I choose not to do that or bore you with such statistics. Still, though, I have to admit that I am a little leery of March whenever it rolls around.
Why am I nervous about stretches of good in my life? This has puzzled me for a while now. I think perhaps this kind of thinking isn’t all that unusual when a person has spent as much time in survival mode as I have. I mean, when all I could do each day, each week, each month that stretched into years was simply survive, stress became an hourly companion. While I know that God has been with me and worked for my good during stretches of survival time, the stress upon my brain and body has taken a toll. Living in survival mode is kind of like having your car in park with your foot on the gas pedal, you go nowhere but you’re revved up and waste a lot of energy and gas. My fight or flight response is on high alert during survival mode and that can be very stressful especially when staying in such mode for periods of years. Coming out of survival mode needs a period of adjustment and during such adjustment time a person’s body needs to rest and relax. I believe that the Bible teaches us how to deal with stress, survival times, and decompressing afterwards in several verses.
Lord, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death, that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation. (New International Version or NIV).
David is fearful and has enemies who want to do him harm. This is a classic example of someone living in survival mode. I can only imagine how David was on high alert and listened for every sound filtering out the normal from the unexpected sound. Here’s another example:
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! Psalm 25:16-19, (NIV).
Can you just feel how harassed and hounded David must have felt? He has real and true enemies who want to see him dead and some are probably from within his own family. Talk about survival mode! Wow! How did David deal with his loneliness and heartache all those times he was living in survival mode?
It is rather interesting to read the Psalms because David has a pattern to his writing that is different from mine and probably yours. When I am feeling afraid and lonely I usually begin my prayers, my conversation with God, by talking about my fears. By the time I finish my prayer I am usually thanking God for His protection and mercy and grace. I end my time with the Lord by reminding myself that God is faithful and good and in control of my out-of-control situation. Not David…in fact he does the opposite. Let’s look at Psalm Twenty-five again:
In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. Psalm 25:1-3, (NIV).
Do you see it? David begins his Psalm with reminding himself and God that God is in control of everything and that God will deal with the enemies harassing David. I find that interesting, don’t you? Now let’s look at Psalm nine again, remember we read verses thirteen and fourteen, let’s see how David began this Psalm.
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1-2 (NIV).
Do you see that David begins with praising the Lord? This is so different from the beginning of my prayers when I am in survival mode; usually I am saying “help me” because I don’t even know how to pray! But there’s more:
The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:7-10, (NIV).
David states all of these reminders, God is in control, God is the judge, God is the refuge for the oppressed, God is the stronghold and finally God does not forsake those who seek Him, those who are His children! David states these reminders before he asks God to deal with his survival mode situation. I find this so instructional, so uplifting, so different from the way I usually pray. This is a great reminder for me. God is in control of my life situations at all times and it is time for me to enjoy the peace and embrace the good. I should be thankful that God has brought me through so many storms and this reminds me that God will see me through any storms looming ahead. After all Jesus Christ established His kingdom and I am one of His, so really, when you think about it, what is there to fear?
Until next time…Katherine