I stand at the kitchen sink performing my nightly ritual. The water is scalding, but I barely flinch each time I rinse another dish under the steamy stream. Maybe because my hands are used to the burn. Or maybe because I’m focused on a different kind of pain.
I draw in a deep breath, slow and long, willing my lungs to fill with enough air to usher in relief. I find none. My heart pounds faster than it should. My chest tightens. It feels like coffee jitters in the life-pumping part of me — only I haven’t had caffeine since the morning. The beat of my own heart feels like life draining out of me. My mind races with a traffic jam of thoughts — speeding yet stuck. The irony is not funny.
I’m writhing, wilting, screaming inside. I’m pounding on the jail of body and mind. I’m trapped. Yet on the outside, I look fine. I load another blue plastic kid bowl into the dishwasher, scrub harder at crusted bits in the corner of a glass pan.
Breathe deep. Fight the ache. Push forward. Crave normal. No relief.
After months of enduring this can’t-catch-my-breath agony, I finally admit that I have a serious issue with anxiety.
I looked fine. I wanted to be fine. But I wasn’t. Not by a long shot.
Several years have since passed. Sometimes the muscle memory of those fruitless deep breaths sneaks up on me. Unless I intentionally recall those tight-chest, racing-mind days, I almost forget that I was once stuck in the anxiety pit. I forget how I cried to God who lifted me out of it.
When “healed” becomes your new normal, it’s easy to forget the Healer.
My hunch is that this is what happened to the men with serious skin diseases who called out to Jesus for mercy. As they went to show themselves to the priests, the lesions of their leprosy vanished. Painful blisters were replaced with smooth skin. Deformed hands and feet were repaired to full function. The disease that had ravaged their bodies and ostracized them from society — for who knows how many years — was miraculously gone! What mercy! Praise God!
But only one did.
But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God. He fell facedown at his feet, thanking him.
Luke 17:15-16 (CSB)
Where were the other nine, Jesus wanted to know? Could they have forgotten the answer to their plea so quickly? Taken the miracle for granted already?
As readers, it’s easy to sit in judgment over these nine, seemingly ungrateful, men. The Messiah altered the course of their entire lives, yet they didn’t have the decency to come back and acknowledge the wonder or utter a thank you!
What if, for a moment, we step down from the judge’s seat and into the healed men’s shoes? Consider their joy. Consider their total awe. How utterly astounded they must have been. Surely they must have wondered if their eyes deceived them. The man who healed them said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests,” so without hesitation, they went!
Can you picture it? After being disabled and only able to hobble for years, they could now walk without pain — or better yet, run! Oh, how those men must have dashed and danced into the presence of the priests appointed to bear witness to their miraculous healing. Or perhaps they first collapsed on the dusty road, weeping with relief.
The exact responses of the nine are unknown. What we do know is that one man came back. What provoked his change of course? First, Scripture says he saw that he was healed. He recognized God’s work in his life. Next, he returned. The man didn’t continue on his way — even to the very task Jesus told him to do; he came back to give God glory and profess his thanks.
What a beautiful sight that must have been: the healed worshiping the Healer. Then to hear Jesus offer another lifeline of encouragement and freedom: “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you” (Luke 17:19).
I wonder if the nine men who didn’t return ever regretted it. Weeks, months, or years later, as they labored at a job they never thought they’d perform, as they caressed the cheek of a wife they never thought they’d marry or see again, as they entered the synagogue to worship instead of being banished to the outskirts of town, did they ever pause to remember the agony from which they were delivered? Did they ever long to go back and thank their Deliverer?
I pull my hands from tonight’s hot suds, take a deep breath, and exhale my deepest thanks.
Thank You, Jesus, for hearing my cry. Thank You for answering my plea for freedom from anxiety. You are powerful and good! All glory is Yours! Forgive me for forgetting or taking Your mercy for granted. You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.
Unlike the ten lepers, God did not choose to exercise instantaneous healing in my life. Instead, He led me to pursue help through counseling to explore the roots and triggers of my anxiety. It was a long road of hard work. But Jesus went with me.
Shadows of anxiety still creep in, but I am grateful to have crossed that darkest valley.
Healing looks different for each individual. God is not limited by a particular means or timetable. The source of our cries for mercy can be equally varied. Maybe you’ve asked God for physical or mental healing. Or maybe you’ve begged Him for a miracle of relational restoration, financial repair, or spiritual renewal.
Wherever you are on the journey, pause today to recognize how God has worked already. Identify the prayers He’s answered. Then turn from your regular to-dos and return to Him. Pour out your praise and thanks.
Ruth Mills says
Amen! So hard to understand a limitless God with my limited mind but that in itself should drive me to worship. Yet how often am I one of the nine? Thanks for encouraging us to remember the Healer! Blessing to you!
Becky Keife says
With you, Ruth!
Rachel Kang says
“The man didn’t continue on his way — even to the very task Jesus told him to do; he came back to give God glory and profess his thanks.”
Wow. Needed that today. Praise Him. Thank you, sister.
Becky Keife says
It’s an example I need to remember too. Much love to you!
Gail Mattox says
Would love copy of Courageous Kindness for the next Bible study. But don’t have the extra money for copy. I am senior citizen on a fixed income. If you can send me a copy I will be forever grateful. Gail Mattox, 2200 Kerwin Rd. #411, University Heights, OH 44118
Becky Keife says
I see you, Gail 🙂
Betsy Wisler says
I was instantly healed of anxiety and agoraphobia in the 1960’s. Satan is strong and knows my weaknesses so occasionally I feel it returning. I have to remind myself that “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world”. I believe God allows these times to remember what He’s done for us and draw us closer to Him. God bless you
Becky Keife says
Amen! What a powerful testimony. Thank you for sharing that, Betsy.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Becky thank you for sharing your heart. About your Anxiety. You are letting people know. You may look ok in the outside but have this thing call Anxiety. That makes your heart and your thinking go at what I call fast. You are still lovely no matter what. God loves you no matter what. God will help you deal with an anxiety things that come up in your life. That you can cope. You remember you are Daughter of the King and that King is Jesus. It is like me with my learning disabilities. I see the world in a different way to people who have no problems like mine. There are things I can’t cope with. That they can cope with. But God said to me. Dawn you may to a person who has not got this. Look ok in the outside. But your mind works differently to there’s. But you are special to me. You have loads of good quality. That make you you. That they don’t. Why would you want to try and change. I love you just the way you are. You are special to me. Just like you Becky with your Anxiety. So I got that but a long time ago. I could not cope with having this disability. The way I see the world different to people who say they are normal. One thing I like is things to stay the same. Like if I go into a favourite shop. Or to do my grocery shopping. I like things to stay the same. If the shops change things or do things differently. That throws me. I can’t cope with it. Until I get used to the change in the shop. If I do. If I know I not get used to it. I not shop in that shop anymore. Only when I really have too. That is how my disability affects me. You know how your Anxiety affects you and how to cope with it. With the help of God by outsides we can deal with theses things. God gives us the strength to deal wit them and cope get through them. Sure we’re would we be without God. So when people understand us and with Gods help. It make the world a whole lot nicer for us. People then don’t think odd things about us. They are more understanding and helpful towards us. As I don’t hide I have learning disabilities. I tell people to so as they understand stand me better and why different thing that don’t affect them affect me. So they know we’re I am coming from how my world works. God is healing me to not let the things in this world that I can’t cope with get to me so easily. So I am Glad to have God. Thank full to him for sending you guys across my path through the readings. Especially the way you share about your lives and the honesty about them. As this helps me too. Thank you so much. In my prayers. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little Enniskillen. Co.Fermanagh N.Ireland. Xx
Becky Keife says
Thank you for your words, Dawn!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
I just spoke what was on my heart in love. You remember you are beautiful person. No matter what. Yes it did take me a long time only to know my disabilities still don’t change me as person. As I got it into people are not going to like me. Our want to know me because of it. My Salvation Army Offer said Dawn don’t worry what people think. If they are truly believe saved. They will like you no matter what disabilities you have. They will see beyond that. Love you like Jesus does. Then she my Salvation Army Offer said Dawn go on line look up the “Father’s Love Letter” on YouTube. You do the same. Type in on YouTube. The words “The Father’s Love Letter”. It will tell you what God thinks about you. That is all that matters. I did that it help me so much. Along with my Salvation Army Offer praying for me too. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little no need to reply back xx
Boy, does this hit home. Recently my grown son was very sick with a heart problem. Our family was praying for him all the time. I had been praying for a problem of my own too, besides my son. I feared for my sons life and I gave up the prayer for me if God would heal my son. God did heal my son. I was and am so very thankful but my problem is still very real to me. I don’t want to go back on my word to God and ask for help for my problem. I feel like I made a deal with God, if he healed my son He needn’t be concerned with my problem. Logically I know God doesn’t make deals but it concerns me. I still feel the need to pray for myself. I feel guilty somehow but my problem is serious to me and it’s not improving. Help!
Becky Keife says
Oh, Linda. You’re right, God doesn’t make deals. His goodness and love are not scarce. His power is not limited. I’m so grateful to hear that He answered your prayers for your son! Praise Him! But that in no way means that God is not able or willing to hear your cries. He is concerned about you too, Linda! Confess your needs. Cry out to your loving Heavenly Father. He cares for you. Praying you feel His presence and care today.
Tammy ramsey says
What if they wanted to I thank him but couldn’t find him in person again…that would be sad…
I am Bipolar so my anxiety seems to come whenever it feels like it. I have been hospitalized for it and attempted suicide in the past. Since I have multiple health problems I always seem to pray for total healing and not just one thing. The Lord has healed me of different things, but my “Thank yous” are not what they should be. There seems to be so much to pray for that the “Thank yous” get left out. I need to change that. Thank you for an awesome blog for today!
Becky Keife says
So very glad you’re here, Mary! I’m thanking God for His work in your life today.
Hosaena Collins says
I loved this!! Very encouraging
Beth Williams says
When I feel down or depressed I make a thankful journal. Writing down everything I am thankful for from Home in Heaven down to paper clips and everything in between. Also include the times He got me out of trials/tribulations. Like the time my dad was healed from geriatric psych & given 1 more year to live. Doing that helps remind myself of God’s continuous care for me & my family. The biggest thing I/we need to remember is God’s timing isn’t our own. He will answer our prayers with a “yes” “no” or “maybe”. Just be persistent in your prayers & trusting His perfect timing.
mesfin dilnessahou says
I am also a living witness how we forget to come back to the Healer, the great physician and say thank you. I had a shoulder pain for a long time and I almost lived with it. Saw several doctors, took different kinds of medicines etc etc. I also pleaded to my Lord and Saviour to heal me. Almost a year ago the pain was gone and I completely forgot about it, and it is no more there. I am completely healed. Sadly I didn’t return to my Healer to come back and say thank you!!! I praise my God always for His grace and mercy, for all His love and kindness BUT not for this particular shoulder pain of which I am completely heald. Right now I am praying for another physical healing. BUT this time when l am healed I will be like the one out of the nine who returned to thank his God. Praise be to Him for ever and ever.