I know what it’s like to be paralyzed. I’ve been paralyzed from the waist down since I was sixteen—the result of a horrific car accident.
Recently, however, I experienced a new kind of paralysis. One brought on by fear. This paralysis was so strong, I literally couldn’t move.
It all started with a spot on my tailbone. Seems minor, but six years ago, a similar thing led to an awful infection. I received many rounds of antibiotics, but nothing was able to knock it out. I was on bed rest for almost ten months. I felt so helpless as I missed out on life and so many activities with my family.
I’ve thought about that lonely time almost daily, and I often fear it will happen again. That’s why, when I noticed that small pimple, I panicked.
“Here we go again,” I immediately thought. “It’s happening. You’re going to get an infection and miss out on life just like you did before. You aren’t going to be able to travel, be a part of family activities, finish your Bible study with the ladies, nothing!”
One by one, things that were precious to me vanished right before my eyes. All I could see was myself lying helplessly alone in my bed, unable to do anything.
And that’s exactly where I found myself…in bed, alone, unable to do anything. Not because of an infection, mind you, but because of fear. In my panicking state, I basically put myself on bed rest and isolated myself from the world.
And it was there that Satan began to have a field day with my mind, body, and soul.
The more I thought about that pimple, the more fearful I became. Before I knew it, I was unable to move physically, emotionally, or spiritually. I couldn’t even bring myself to answer the phone, leave the house, or return emails. I lay in bed, frightened and discouraged for days—that is, until another pimple appeared, this time on my chin.
I stared at my chin in the mirror without a care in the world. I knew it would be gone in a few days, so I didn’t give it a second thought. And that’s when I heard God speak these words to my heart: “How come you trust Me to take care of that pimple on your chin, but not the one on your rear? Am I not big enough to handle them both?”
As I write this, I have to admit I’m embarrassed. Besides the fact that I’m telling the world that I have a pimple on my butt, I’m ashamed to admit that I, a lifelong Christian who loves God and His Word and even teaches it to others, would so quickly forfeit God’s goodness and peace. I know better! I’ve witnessed God’s faithfulness time and time again. He’s never failed me. How could I let such a small thing—a pimple, for goodness sake!—spiral me into such turmoil?
Looking back, I understand. It started the moment I took my eyes off God, the answer, and magnified my problem, the zit. When I imagined the worst possible scenario and accepted it as truth, my fear grew to paralyzing proportions.
If I had focused on God and trusted Him with my need, He would have quickly calmed my fears and cleared my mind of these crazy, negative thoughts. God is a God of peace, and He doesn’t want His children living in the grip of fear (Philippians 4:6–8; 2 Timothy 1:7).
But do you know who does want us paralyzed by fear? Satan. He comes to steal our joy and rob our peace (John 10:10). I’m sure he was ecstatic the day I climbed in bed and isolated myself from the world. There was no way I could fulfill God’s purpose for my life or encourage others while hiding under the covers of fear!
Fortunately, it didn’t take long for me to recognize Satan’s trap and the fact that I was playing into his hands. I had allowed him to invade my thoughts and cause me to question God’s ability to handle my situation. Once again, I became determined to trust God.
I immersed myself in His Word. I meditated on it, prayed His Word over my situation, and worshipped Him. I thanked God for His love, His faithfulness to take care of me, and even for that little zit. As I did, my fear began to dissipate, and God’s peace settled over me.
Sure, fearful thoughts still tried to rear their ugly heads, but I tuned them out. I replaced them with God’s voice. I refused to give any place to fear. Isaiah 41:13 (NIV) became my focus: “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
You know, for me to discover a sore on my tailbone is a legitimate concern. I spend most of the day sitting in a wheelchair, so I do have to be careful not to overlook simple things that could lead to an infection. But being concerned and being afraid are two different things. Godly concern leads to God-lead actions. Fear sidelines us and causes us to be paralyzed by our emotions.
Have you become paralyzed by thoughts of what might be? Don’t do like I did and forfeit the peace of God. Cast your cares over to God and trust Him. He can handle it…zit and all!
Written by Wendy Petzold
Photo by Katherine Chase