By: G.J. Fortier

“I said to the one standing before me, ‘I am overcome with anguish because of the vision my lord, and I feel very weak. How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.’

Again, the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. ‘Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed’, he said, ‘Peace! Be strong now, be strong.’”

“When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, ‘Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.’” Daniel 10:16-19 (NIV)

Many years ago, when I was in my twenties, I was at a friend’s apartment playing Dungeons & Dragons—yes, I played D&D when I was younger … and may again considering the state of what’s considered “entertainment” that they’re pumping out over the airwaves these days—with a group of my friends when something very unusual occurred. There came a frantic knock on the door. Outside, the knocker screamed, “Call 911! Call 911! The apartment across the street is on fire!” Now, despite what you may be thinking, this was not part of our game. There are people out there who participate in Live Action Role Play or larping, but I’ve never done that. Heck, I don’t even have a Starfleet Uniform (and the one that I wore that one Halloween wasn’t a captain’s, it was a commander’s).

But I digress.

So, when the knock came, myself and my best friend—we’ll just call him “John”—were the first out the door, and sure enough, the roof of one of the apartments across the street was engulfed in flames.

And away we went!

“John” and I sprinted over. He went toward what appeared to be the unit that was on fire, and I went to the one next to it with the intention of warning any occupants within. When the door opened, standing there was a young man that I would estimate to be about 10 years old. The apartment was full of thin smoke. Through the haze, I saw a woman, frantically gathering items from the kitchen cabinets as, beyond her, I could clearly see flames. After the third time I extracted her … and her four children … from the building, the mom tried to go back inside to gather more of their possessions. Finally, after I agreed to get her couch and TV out, and seeing that the smoke had gotten so thick that we could see no further than the length of our arm, she decided to stay outside.

Years later, I recounted these events to a former boss of mine to which he announced, “How incredibly stupid of you!”

“So, do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

 

Oh, by no means was that the stupidest thing I’ve done. Twice in my life, I’ve face down tornados. The first was about 15 years ago. I was working at a convenience store out in the country, and well off the beaten path. There was a terrible thunderstorm in progress. The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning, and the area was being pelted by quarter sized hail. A handful of locals who lived in mobile homes had sought refuge in the store, and a dozen-or-so travelers had pulled off the road, parking under the canopy that covered the gas pumps. The wind became almost deafening and the front doors blew out as there was a drastic change in the barometric pressure. I knew then that the best place for those of us who were inside was the stockroom where there were several perpendicular walls that supported the roof. When all was said and done, the store’s main sign had been twisted like a corkscrew, and the forest, barns and silos that lined the road behind the store were leveled.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

The second time happened at the hospital where I work today. It was 5 or 6 years ago. There was another dreadful storm that was raging in the darkness of the early morning. As the wind increased, I stood in the doorway of the vestibule, warning the people inside the building of the deteriorating conditions outside, that I couldn’t even see, as a tornado ravaged the neighborhood just across the street.

And then …

I was recently diagnosed with Arterial Fibrillation or AFib. This is a common—between 1% and 2% of Americans suffer this affliction, many not even knowing it—condition that’s very treatable. In other words, it’s far from a death sentence.

However …

The enemy is exceedingly good at identifying and then exploiting my—and your—weaknesses. Satan and his minions launched a spiritual attack on me that had devastating, albeit short-lived, effect.

The way that my AFib was discovered was when I had a bout of shortness of breath that was so severe that I couldn’t sleep. I went to my doctor, and it was attributed to AFib, which, as I understand it, was perfectly understandable considering shortness of breath is one of its symptoms. What was missed at my doctor’s visit was the fact that I also had “walking pneumonia”. My shortness of breath steadily worsened. I was unable to sleep. My doctor assured me that my condition was associated with my AFib and, ultimately, he did nothing about it. On the eighth night of no sleep, I wound up in the Emergency Room where, after a chest xray, my pneumonia was discovered, and I was (eventually) given the proper treatment. But during those eight days, and for several days after because of the medication I was prescribed, I experienced debilitating depression and anxiety. My strength, my bravado, my bravery was gone during this period. I could find no peace, no solace, no hope. I was miserable. So much so that I was forced to turn to the fellowship of my brothers and sisters in Christ for prayer and encouragement. In that was the only relief that I found until my condition improved.

I admit to you, I was practicing what some may call foolhardy stupidity in the face of what “Mother Nature” had thrown at me. But in the face of the enemy, Satan, the Master of Lies, I was completely helpless and utterly lost until I turned to the one and only strength that I will ever need.

His name is Jesus. If you don’t know Him, you really should.

Today is the day. Now is the time. The battle is on!

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

G. J. Fortier is a member of IronMen Ministries and of First Baptist Church, Centerville, Georgia. Look for his novels on Amazon for Kindle and paperback. Or visit his website at www.gerardfortier.com.