I think Steve Leavitt said that. I know I heard it on Point of View, and I know the gentleman in question had suffered from clinical depression, racing thoughts and panic attacks for a number of years. God turned his suffering into a ministry.
I’ve always been something of a fretter, but I’m taking it to new heights this year. I seem to be turning phobic. Of storms.
Living in Kansas, storms are a reasonable thing to fear. This year, especially, has been one of the deadliest and most unpredictable on weather record. But phobias aren’t reasonable fears. They take a reasonable fear and step it into unreasonable territory. When I can’t leave my house because there’s a 20% chance of a thunderstorm that might turn into a severe thunderstorm that might turn into a severe thunderstorm outbreak that might turn into a deadly tornadic event, never mind that there isn’t a cloud in the sky or within 60 miles of the city…well, that’s a phobia.
I like Adrian Monk. I don’t want to be him.
Trouble is, I haven’t been able to figure out how to stop it. I know it’s unreasonable, but that doesn’t keep my heart from seizing up when I listen to the 7 day forecast. Or my stomach from trying to turn my last meal into diamonds. Or the tossing and turning into the wee hours of the morning, every pore straining to sense the first breath of a nonexistent clap of thunder.
I’ve prayed. I’ve asked friends and family to pray for me. I’ve “put my house in order,” so to speak with all the emergency preparations I can imagine. But the fact is, I’m not in control. That’s really what it comes down to. I can’t control the weather. I can’t control God. I can’t control much of anything. Not even my fear.
I told God recently I can’t live like this. I won’t be a recluse, cowering in her basement. I can’t go night after night awake and shaking in the dark. I can’t do it.
He’s going to have to step up.
Being God, He has. Today, while begging Him for answers, I read this passage in 2 Corinthians:
“He (God) comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is experienced in the endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer.” 2 Cor. 1:4-6 HSCB
I wanted to know what I’m supposed to learn from my fear. I wanted to know why God wasn’t giving me that “peace that passes understanding.” I wanted to know why I had to suffer through this silly, irrational nonsense when I know better.
For once, it isn’t all about me. I think God is allowing me to feel this so I can understand and comfort others who feel it, too (not about storms, necessarily, but you can be phobic and obsessive about all kinds of things. The fear is the connecting factor, not the trigger). So they can see me struggle without cursing God. So they can see that instant answers don’t always come, but perseverance leads to blessing. “His faithfulness is my shield and rampart. ” Psa 91: 4b
If that’s true, I may have to suffer through my feelings of fear for a while. I may have to continue deep breathing exercises and exercising every time I feel that adrenaline rush (I figure if that horrible consequence doesn’t stop my brain from releasing adrenaline, nothing will). I don’t know how long, but at least now, I may know just a little bit of why.
I don’t presume to believe this is the entire reason. God is far more complex than that. This may, however, be one reason, and it’s a reason that has started helping me make it through.
Here’s the irony. Remember that quote from above? From the guy who’d been there, done that, and now ministers to other? Yeah, the answer was staring me in the face the whole time.
I just couldn’t see it past the fear.
Even as I write this, the weather radio has blared another tornado watch, the first of many for this week, they say. I will covet whatever prayers you see fit to offer on my behalf and on behalf of all of us who must weather these storms, both physical and emotional.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.