Don’t Panic!

I stepped into the room; the MRI machine filled it with scarcely enough space left for the operator and me. I eyed the circular opening of the apparatus. “Am I going to be okay in there?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” the operator answered, handing me the panic button.

panic buttonA few minutes later I lay wide-eyed as my upper body glided into the dark machine. It surrounded me, only inches from my face. The farther I moved into the enclosure, the faster my heart raced. Then, I couldn’t breathe. So I did what any sane person would do in that circumstance. I pushed the panic button! The trustworthy operator reversed the process. Out I slid.

“Would you like to try with a cold wash cloth on your face?” the lady asked. But it was too late. The damage was done. My heart raced, my palms were sweaty, and I felt lightheaded. I teetered on the edge of a panic attack.

On the drive home, I chastised myself. After nine years of battling lower back issues, I finally asked my doctor for an MRI. I pleaded my case, and he reluctantly agreed. However I chickened out and still had no answers.

I seriously considered ditching the whole idea and living with the unknown. Instead, I called the doctor’s office. We discussed my options—valium or an open MRI forty-five minutes away. I chose the latter. While I waited for the appointment, I had time—time to stew, and time to repeatedly visualize the small space that had stifled my breath.

Two weeks later I drove to the appointment. Music blared through the speakers in my car as I sang praises to the Lord. I prayed He would comfort me, relax my tense body, and dissipate the fear of another anxiety attack. Then I heard these lyrics: Your breath fills up my lungs. It was Christy Nockels’ voice, but God’s answer to my prayer. He reassured me that He would carry me through the MRI. He would put the breath in my lungs.

Pneuma, a Greek word, means both breath and Spirit. Therefore, breath and Spirit are interconnected. The air we breathe sustains life. And God gives us each breath. Genesis 2:7 reveals this fact. God breathed life into Adam. It is further demonstrated in Romans 8:11 when Paul explains, “And if the Spirit (pneuma) of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit (pneuma), who lives in you.” His Spirit lives in me. His breath sustains me.

We, in and of ourselves, cannot compel our lungs to pump air in and out. At the very most we can only stop our breathing momentarily. eagle in flightAlthough even in this act, our body has a built-in defense mechanism. If we hold our breath too long, we will pass out, and our body will involuntarily begin pumping life-sustaining air back into our lungs.

These facts became reality for me the day I had the open MRI. Just the vastness of the room eased my conscience.   More than that, as I slid into this bigger contraption (with a cold wash cloth on my face), God whispered into my ear, “I am the breath in your lungs.” I rested comfortably and confidently, breathing normally.

(Author’s Note: This piece was written a few years ago before having lower back surgery.)

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10 thoughts on “Don’t Panic!

  1. I enjoyed this post because I could just imagine how you were feeling. Years ago I was having chest pains. They ran tests thinking it was my heart and it ended up being ‘good old fashioned anxiety’. (That is what the Dr. called it). I was running 2 businesses and homeschooling. Too much stress. I turned to the Lord for help and found the same help you did. I began turning to Him throughout the day and focusing only on the task at hand. I learned more about the sovereignty of God. The anxiety left as I renewed my mind in God’s Word and practiced what I had learned. Great post Barb!

    Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out,
    who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it
    and spirit to those who walk in it:Is. 42:5

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  2. Fear not, for I am with you;
    Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you,
    Yes, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’Isaiah 41:10…was the first scripture I memorized as a new Christian and after being diagnosed with breast cancer over 20 yrs ago that scripture seems to be burned in my memory and I am so thankful because I have had sooooo many procedures and tests that could have paralyzed me with fear if not for God’s word. So thankful for the Sword of the Spirit!

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  3. During the birth of our first child, a mistake in the epidural placement and dosage left me anesthetized from neck to waist and unable to breathe well. Although I was on oxygen, the panicky feeling of suffocation was far worse than the considerable pain of childbirth. We do literally depend on God for every breath; sometimes it’s just more obvious than others. Thanks for sharing your story.

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    • Ugh! Sounds awful! I detested the epidural I had with my first and refused to get one with my second. All around me thought I was crazy. (I’m not a good patient!) Thanks for reading and commenting. God uses many circumstances to show Himself to us.

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  4. Your story is truly a testiment to faith. During my two experiences with cancer, I came face to face with this. During each radiation treatment I whispered ‘Jesus’ and never did have burned skin. I was able to witness to co-workers who wondered how I could be so calm. I told them I knew God was in control of my life and I would be healed either way. (in life or in death) He is so faithful! Karen

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