When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
Psalm 94: 18-19 NIV
It started out as an ordinary day.
Little did I know that evening I would face a brush with death 35,000 feet in the air; arriving in a far away city, surrounded by unfamiliar faces. And in my despair and anguish, all I had was my faith and my Lord.
The morning of May 29th, my mind was focused on the trip I would be taking that afternoon. Employed as a flight attendant for 32 years, I have been on many trips. Thankfully, most have been uneventful and there was no reason to think this day would be any different. It was a quick one hour flight up to Charlottesville, Virginia from Atlanta. Nine hours in a hotel and a quick flight back to Atlanta the next morning. Sure seemed easy enough. This day, however, easy was not part of God’s plan.
We departed from Atlanta on time. As we took off and began our climb, I made the welcome announcement to our passengers. We leveled off and the captain signaled that it was safe for us to be up in the cabin and begin our service. I went into the aisle and leaned over to offer our snack basket to a passenger seated by the window when a sudden and severe pain wrecked havoc in my chest. It was searing and debilitating, but I did my best to keep my smile and continue the service.
Returning to the galley area, I doubled over from the physical pain and from the mental fear that was entering my thoughts. Lord, what is this, what is wrong here? I was pleading to Him to allow it to pass. Struggling, I was able to make the requested drinks and deliver them to the passengers.
By now the pain had gravitated between my shoulder blades and it was all I could do to stand. I went to sit on my jumpseat away from the view of passengers and leaned over in intense pain. Fear grabbed me. I knew I was in trouble and needed immediate medical attention. I instructed another flight attendant to call the cockpit and request paramedics meet our flight.
I have done that many times in my thirty-two years of flying for passengers – BUT, never for myself. I was blessed to have two gentlemen on the flight with medical backgrounds to assist, and I was fortunate that we were already on our descent into Charlottesville and on the ground in less than twenty minutes. Once at the hospital, it was immediately determined that I was having a heart attack and I was prepped for surgery.
Wait. This can’t be happening, Lord. No. Please. My girls have already lost their daddy. Please, spare me, Lord. They still need me.
Pleading. Frightened. Hurting. Questioning. I was rolled into the surgery area. One of my main arteries was 90% blocked and a stent was placed. Five hours after the onset of this nightmare, I was finally placed in the ICU.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. Psalm 94:19
During those five hours of uncertainties in my life, I could hear the words of the medical staff explaining the diagnosis and the procedure to repair my heart. Most of those words were jumbled in my head. But, the words that I did hear loud and clear came from the great I Am. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Our mind is a complex machine. It can digest a multitude of thoughts in a matter of minutes. Many of those thoughts come and go with no aim or purpose. Yet, in a crisis, there is only one area that gives us comfort; those pertaining to God. It is here we find rest and peace. It is here where calmness can control our anxieties. It is here where God is our refuge, an ever helping presence. No matter how many thoughts cross our mind, there are thoughts of God, of Heaven, of hope, of faith, of love.
It is when His promises meet us face to face and the prospect of eternity with Him is revealed, that our hearts are warmed and our souls experience joy.
And in that five hour crisis of the unknown, it was only Christ that could offer me this peace. It was only Christ that assured me of His love for me and all that He still has planned for me. It was all I had.
And, it was all I needed.
So, while I could look at this bump in the road as another trial, another headache, another annoyance, I choose to look at it as another moment to glorify God for His graciousness in my life. We are each called to walk individual journeys. And along these journeys we may face obstacles and trials. Some of us may get bigger challenges and some of us may get more frequent challenges. As widows, we have certainly walked and continue to walk many trials. It really does not matter what they are or how many there are; what matters is how we respond to them.
What matters is that we claim His truths for us and allow Him to work through these rough spots so His glory may shine.
As I recover from this physical challenge, I am grateful for life. I am grateful I can go forward tending to the business God still has in store for me. And while I tremendously miss the support of my husband walking this challenge with me, I will lean even more on God to see me through. Yes, sisters, He is all I need.
Sweet Father, Thank you for every moment, every challenge and every blessing in our lives. Help us to keep our eyes focused on You and Your plans for us. I am so grateful You were with me during this moment of crisis. It is such a blessing to know You are with us in any situation. Amen
Bonnie is a mother of two awesome daughters who bless her life every day. When she’s not enjoying long walks along the Florida coastline, she is flying through the skies as a flight attendant. Life took a radical change in the spring of 2009 when her husband was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The walk through that journey was the hardest she had ever walked. How did she make it through? And how is she surviving? The answer is simple. Jesus. His love. His mercy. His grace. He carried her when she was at her lowest. And Bonnie carried Him in her heart even when she did not understand. He has been faithful in His promises – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5) Bonnie has been called by God to share her story through writing and speaking.
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Read more about faith during illness from Lori and Sherry