When I was fifteen, I almost died.
The morning before it happened, I walked into my cardiologist’s office for a routine check-up. The annual appointment often felt more like a formality, since the final report always indicated no change in the minor heart condition that I’ve had since I was little. This time, however, my doctor decided to do one more test — mostly out of curiosity, rather than an inclination something was wrong. I would wear a heart monitor for 24 hours, just so there would be no doubt everything was stable.
“Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Everything we have in this world could be taken away in an instant.”
Several days later, I was asked to come back to the hospital right away. When I saw the doctor, he unfolded several pieces of paper in front of me, each containing a long sequence of squiggly lines. He pointed out one particular area where the lines differed from the rest. As he began to explain what they meant, the only thing I heard was, “You almost died that night.”
It happened while I was sleeping. No warning. No symptoms. I was totally unaware. For one split second, my heart did not beat correctly. If it had lasted a few moments longer, I would not have woken up the next morning.
That one episode sent me into a spiral of tests and appointments. A team of doctors worked to explain why it happened and if it might happen again. No cause was found and no explanation could be given. We hoped and assumed it would not happen again.
Holding onto the Temporal
During this time, I remember sitting in my hospital room and having fear and anxiety overtake me. Chronic illness has been part of my life since the beginning, but the burden suddenly felt too heavy for me. What if it did happen again? What if it turned out differently? There was nothing I could do to stop it.
In those moments, I became more aware than ever that life is fragile. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Everything we have in this world could be taken away in an instant. Still, we often believe we have some amount of control over our lives. Overwhelming fear invades when reality confronts us, leaving us frantically grasping for control we do not have. The harder we work to hold it together, the more fear threatens to enslave us.
“In the stillness of reflecting on what God has done and what he can do, he assures that he is fighting for us.”
We tightly wrap our hands around things that will inevitably fade into dust (Ecclesiastes 3:19–20), forgetting that our lives belong to the Lord, to begin and end as he ordains (Job 1:21). He will be faithful to accomplish the plan he has for us (Psalm 138:8). It cannot be cut short before he allows. Although it may be hard to relinquish the illusion of control, once we do, we can begin to understand the reality of his protection.
Battles We Cannot See
When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, it was no easy process. Once they left, Pharaoh came after them, intending to take their lives. As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites were trapped up against a body of water.
The miracle that God preformed in parting the Red Sea was something Israel could see unfold right in front of them. His protection was immediately evident and tangible. God’s protection over our lives may not appear in the same way today, but he has not stopped parting the Red Seas in our lives.
Whether the Israelites lived or died, it was all within God’s control. But when fear overwhelmed them and they began to desire their enslavement over rallying the faith it would require to walk the journey toward the freedom God had promised, Moses reminded them, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14). I do not think it’s a coincidence that as Psalm 46 reminds us of God’s great power and sovereignty, we are compelled to be still and know that he is God (Psalm 46:10). In the stillness of reflecting on what God has done and what he can do, he assures that he is fighting for us.
A war between life and death ensued in my heart that night while I slept. But God not only protected my life, he graciously protected me from the fight. The battle was not mine. There was nothing I could do to guard myself. And while I rested in the safety of his hands, he fought for me.
The Victory Won
Death and illness are part of this world, but they are not the end of our story. Because of Christ, these things have no lasting power. It may seem like they continually win the battle with our physical lives, but the victory of the war belongs to the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:55–57). Because of this, our burdens have been lifted. The illusion of control is broken down. Fear fades into confidence in his strength. We are reminded that nothing can ever happen outside of God’s plan (Job 12:10). His plan is unfolding, and he fights against anything that tries to interfere. The world will not win. It cannot steal you from God’s hand.
“One day we will look back on all the battles God fought on our behalf and praise his eternal victory.”
No matter what his plan entails, he is walking alongside us through the deep waters — through the halls of hospitals — toward his promises. He is guiding and protecting us each step of the way. Fear may threaten to take over as we wait to see where he leads us next, but we can be assured we will receive the ultimate promise of life given to every believer (Romans 8:38–39). One day, we will be free from this world. Death and suffering will be no more (Revelation 21:4). We will look back on all the battles he fought on our behalf and praise his eternal victory.