Insert ear plugs to muffle the maddening noise of the MRI machine.
Close my eyes so I don’t see the smothering, claustrophobic encasement three inches above my nose, and almost touching my shoulders. The technician places a rubber bulb in my hand, attached to a tube.
“Just squeeze this ‘panic button’ if you need, and we’ll stop and pull you out.”
In these last couple of weeks, I’ve thought of that “panic button” (and what that might be, exactly?) and what would happen if I “pushed” it.
I know I’m not the only one going through things like this, as many of my friends and family members seem to also be “in the pressure cooker” in their lives right now. I’m not talking about the MRI test — I’m talking about life in general. Does any of this sound familiar?
Anyone feel like “pushing the panic button”, like I do??
Last month, we buried my life-long friend who was killed in a motorcycle wreck. The very next week, her mother, Carolyn, was diagnosed with Leukemia and given only weeks to live. Carolyn and my mother have been best friends since their teen years. We are praying for a miracle from God — the only thing that’s going to extend Carolyn’s earthly life. She’s ready to be with her daughter in Heaven, but her husband and surviving daughter and grandchildren are not ready to say good-bye. Neither are we. The grief seems overwhelming, and my mother can’t stop crying.
I fainted two times this morning, following my knee surgery three days ago. Thank God, my mom was here helping me, assisting me in and out of the shower with my crutches. My husband was at the local urgent care clinic with our daughter, who’d been bitten by a large tick in her ear yesterday. Little Jaycie’s ear is grossly swollen and making her cry with pain. Painkillers, antibiotics, and prayers just can’t work fast enough, it seems.
My nephew is back in jail, still floundering and battling drug addiction since he watched his mother (my sister) drown years ago. Two of my sons have taken a temporary (unpaid) leave of absence from their jobs, under such stress that they’re experiencing severe physiological and psychological issues. After losing two other sons to suicide, this is unnerving and frightening!
One of my sons is a newlywed, whose wife just graduated college, so they have no income at the moment. The other son recently wrecked his car and had to buy a used one (with a payment now, so full coverage insurance was required), and now he has no income. Anxiety medications aren’t working… he fears for the immediate and long-term future. As his mother, my heart breaks to see his anguish.
The pressure is building, climbing, threatening to be our undoing. What can we do?
My husband and I can vegetables almost every summer. It’s quite a tedious process, from planting the beans (tomatoes, etc.) early in the spring, tending the gardens, harvesting the fruit, then on to the pressure cooker and canning process — just so we can enjoy the fruit of our labor later on. From the perspective of the fruit or vegetables in the pressure cooker, it may seem cruel and unnecessary at the time. But only in that process is lasting fruit produced.
I could go on about the things my other adult children, and my precious little grandchildren, are suffering. However, I’m sure you get the point. As a mother and grandmother, my natural instinct is to offer help, and even “rescue” if necessary. Often times, though, there’s nothing I can do (humanly speaking) to alleviate the situation.
So I do the only thing that can help … I pray.
When life tempts me 2 push the panic button, I do the 1 thing that helps - I pray. God & His… Click To Tweet
I cry out for the Lord’s infinite wisdom and power, the forces of Heaven itself, the angelic help sent by their Commander in Chief, the Creator of all that is, the Giver and Sustainer of life. Jesus is not only our Savior Who paid the penalty of our sins when He was crucified. He is also our Redeemer from seemingly impossible and overwhelming situations that we face in this very moment!
Jesus faced that “pressure cooker” during His earthly life. John 6:64-7:8 (NIV) is just one example.
(Jesus speaking to His disciples): “Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
7 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him.2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do… show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him. [Ouch! Most of His friends left Jesus, Judas was about to betray Him (and Jesus knew it from the beginning), Government leaders were trying to kill Him, and even His own half brothers did not believe that He was the Messiah.]
6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet…” Jesus knew that GOD was in charge of when, and whether, He lived and died. He knew that His days and the Father’s plans for Him were already made, and He trusted His Heavenly Father to carry Him through it… victoriously!
Even a short time later, while praying in anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus begged His Father in Heaven to “let this cup pass from me”, if there was any other way to accomplish the mission of redeeming the souls of all who would eventually follow Christ. There was no other way… none but the extreme “pressure cooker” of the cross.
In that moment, faced with panic, Jesus chose obedience and surrender. He trusted the goodness, the love, the wisdom and the promises of God, because He’d always kept His Word!
I LOVE Psalm 27, and encourage you to read the whole chapter. Here are some highlights:
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? … 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Without Jesus, we often resort to the “panic button” of divorce, despair, suicide, addictions, self-harm, and hurting those closest to us.
Life is hard. If you’re a follower of Christ, however, you (and I) have a distinct advantage as we go through rough times. Here’s from a guy (the Apostle Paul) who’d been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, stoned (almost to death), suffered near starvation, and more. He definitely experienced that “pressure cooker” that you and I face.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NIV)
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Under pressure? Jesus is our release valve! He is our hope, and He gives meaning and purpose to the difficulties we endure.
Tomorrow at church (as I write this, May 27th, 2017), I plan to sing (with God’s help, and my crutches) a song my late sister Elizabeth wrote, “Where the Lamb Will Be the Light“. May 28th was our son Jonathan’s birthday, but he is now in Heaven, where there is no darkness, no death, no sorrow, and no need for crutches.
Prayer: Lord, Jesus, You are our peace! Help me to trust in You during these trials. Remind me of Your great love for me, for my children and others I care about, and that Your purposes will be fulfilled. Help me remember Your promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”