I’m pretty good about the little things. If I start to slip or trip but then right myself, I’ll say or think, “Thank you, Lord.” But I recently had an opportunity to be thankful about a big thing, and blew it utterly.
The situation was this: Because I had a double bypass five years ago and my blood pressure is on the borderline for medication, a doctor prescribed for me a beta blocker that could bring with it nasty side effects like insomnia and anxiety. Never having had pill problems, I ignored those warnings.
Then a routine medical lab test indicated, maybe, one of the worst kinds of cancer. The score was so bad it looked like a lab mistake, and retesting would come the next day, but instead of calmness I had clamminess, and instead of saying to God, “Your will be done,” I railed at the prospect that my will would be thwarted.
Did the anxiety come naturally or was it medicinally induced? Whatever the cause, my thoughts and words flung heavenward were disrespectful: I have so much to do.?...?I love my wife so much.?...?I need to tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there store all my goods (Luke 12:18).
Happily, the next day’s lab retest gave me a healthy score—but the error illuminated my own pride. God showed me that I may indeed have a Christian worldview when it comes to the issues we typically deal with in WORLD, and may indeed have a sense of His sovereignty throughout the day—but when it comes to the most important questions, I was not above an unhappy “Ides of March” failure.
Feb. 14 is famous as Valentine’s Day, of course, but a month later comes the day when fear outweighs romantic hope. The ancient Romans saw March 15—the Ides of March—as a day bringing chaos. It was the day of Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 B.C., with conspirators stabbing him 23 times in the Roman Senate. I could put Psalm 23 up against 23 stabs, but that lab error and beta blocker forced me to admit that thankfulness for green pastures yielded to unsteadiness when I peered into the valley of the shadow of death.
I’m nervous about admitting all this, but (1) it’s sadly true, (2) it’s proof that I don’t belong on any pedestal, and (3) my position may not be all that unusual among Christians. As J.I. Packer writes in Knowing Christianity: “Normal people do not look forward to dying, and there is good reason for that. We cannot expect the process to be pleasant; the prospect of going to give an account of oneself to God is awesome; and Christians know that physical death is the outward sign of that eternal separation from God which is the Creator’s judgment on sin.”