In the fall of 2019, we had the privilege of taking a trip to Israel with our church. It was just a few months before the world shut down and Covid would make traveling harder than ever. It was on that first leg of our journey, in midair on our flight to London, that I witnessed what I would later come to realize was my husband’s first panic attack. This first incident led to months of anxiety and several more moments of panic. I have struggled with anxiety in the past and have even had 3 panic attacks in my life that I can recall, so I knew what he was going through and the inability to explain it. God used my past struggles to help me walk with Chad through some super scary times. During those months I begged God to take away his fears and replace them with His peace! I spent hours on my knees in prayer crying out to God or silently crying in the shower so I could stay strong in front of my husband. With each prayer, God was drawing me in a little closer to His side and reminding me that no pain is ever wasted. I love this translation of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 which says, “All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For He is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort. He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us.” As the months of anxiety wore on, my prayer changed from “take this pain away” to “please don’t waste this struggle.” Proving He is faithful once again, God answered this prayer in a mighty way.
About a year ago, a man who never missed our morning runs began a struggle of his own. Even though our conversations about God were not always welcome during those runs, this man knew enough about our relationship with God to ask us for prayer when he began his own struggle with anxiety. And when sleepless nights led to missed runs, he allowed those prayers to be prayed over him by the shaky voices of those who had walked in his shoes. On a recommendation from a friend, I gave him a book called Gentle and Lowly by Dane C. Ortlund to read when he lay awake in the middle of the night gripped with fear. To my surprise, he actually read it—and liked it! Little by little, I could see God breaking down the walls of his heart and drawing him closer through this trial. This same struggle that Chad had been wrestling with gave him the compassion he needed to come alongside his friend and pour out the same comfort that God had poured upon him.
What battle are you facing today in your own life that has you on your knees? Have you ever stopped to think that you may be going through this right now so that you will be well equipped to help someone else face the same exact battle in their own life? In the midst of your pain, may you remember the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians and my prayer over Chad. Don’t waste the struggle! God may be preparing you to fight for someone else!