A once-in-a-lifetime trip to Israel.
My husband, daughter and I stood in awe on the top of Mt. Azekah overlooking the valley of Elah. This was the place where David killed Goliath! Trying to wrap my head around what took place here, I tried to envision David coming face-to-face with the one who taunted him. Threatened him. Dared him to come one step closer.
Ted, one of our teaching pastors had just walked us through this historical event. Pulling nuggets of truth from scripture, he took us back in time to what played out that day. He finally challenged us to identify the giants in our own lives.
The things that taunt us. The things that ignite fear, leaving us paralyzed.
How will we respond when we come face-to-face with these giants?
Just four hours after our group hiked back down Mt. Azekah, I’d be forced to answer that question.
We’d just finished eating dinner at our hotel’s dining room. My daughter, Breanna, smiled as she began to dig into a piece of chocolate cake. The chef had just informed us the dessert was nut free.
She’s severely allergic to nuts. We have to take extreme caution with anything she eats. The slightest amount of nuts ushers in a dangerous reaction.
After three bites, Breanna’s smile turned to shock. She spit out what looked like a tiny piece of nut.
“Mom, I think this has nuts in it and I’ve already eaten some!”
In that moment, fear ignited in my heart. Grabbing the plate of cake, I gasped and held my breath as we quickly made our way to the chef on the other side of the room. Showing him what we’d discovered, the frown on his face confirmed my fear.
“I didn’t realize this cake had walnuts in it.”
This is when the spark of fear engulfed into horrendous flames in every part of my being.
It had been six years since Breanna had accidentally ingested nuts. She’d broken out in hives all over her body. I remember distinctly what the doctor had said in that moment.
With each incident, the reaction gets worse. Just because ingestion doesn’t affect one’s breathing in a given moment doesn’t mean it won’t the next time.
This was her next time. Would she experience anaphylactic shock?
Anaphylactic shock shuts down the respiratory system. In some extreme cases, people die.
My husband, Jim, and I looked at each other in total disbelief. Is this really happening?
Just minutes after Breanna ingested the nuts, her lips and left eye swelled up. Panic washed all over my daughter’s face and in that moment I came face-to-face with my giant.
The giant that all parents face…
The fear of something tragic happening to one of your kids.
When others in the dining room realized what was happening, Roy, a doctor in our group, offered his assistance. Not only was he a doctor, but he understood our fear. One of his grown daughters also had a severe nut allergy. Looking back now, I realize in that moment God began to slowly extinguish the flames of fear with His comfort.
Fear of the unknown is another giant we all face.
And in this moment, we just didn’t know what was going to happen. Breanna didn’t have trouble breathing. She hadn’t broken out in hives either. Would her lips continue to swell? Could it eventually affect her breathing? Should we wait it out and see what else happened?
Based on Dr. Roy’s experience with his own daughter, he urged us to get Breanna to the hospital.
Other giants stomped onto the scene, shaking the core of my heart.
We’re in a foreign country!
We know nothing about hospitals in Israel!
Will our insurance cover us out of the country?
How far away do we have to go?
If she goes into shock, are they equipped to treat her?
An ambulance pulled up outside the hotel. We made our way through the crowd that had gathered in the lobby. Four Israeli medics (yes, four!) greeted us and immediately got Breanna hooked up in the back of the ambulance. Jim sat up front with the driver. Was there room for me?
“You, get in here with us!” I squeezed in next to the other three medics and hung on tightly, trying to stay strong for Breanna.
The tires of the ambulance screeched in reverse, making our way down extremely narrow streets.
This is when I began to pray like crazy!
God, please help us. We need you now. I beg you to protect Breanna.
The medics continued to monitor Breanna’s vital signs. They assured me we were getting closer to the hospital. At this point she was breathing fine.
The ambulance continued speeding to our destination, at some points driving up on sidewalks to get around stopped traffic.
God, please get us there safe.
Breanna suddenly bolted up from her reclined position, fear all over her face and yelled, “My throat feels strange, I can’t breathe!”
Just seconds later, she threw up. (Sorry to be so graphic here!)
“Please help her!” I pleaded with the medic next to me. The one in charge immediately gave her an injection of epinephrine.
Immediately she announced to us that she could breathe okay now. (It turned out that she had not experienced anaphylactic shock, but because her throat felt strange before vomiting she thought it was affecting her ability to breathe.)
Finally, we arrived at the hospital and they took her right in. No waiting.
I walked beside my courageous daughter to the room they pointed to. Jim filled out paperwork at the front desk and would join us later.
A nurse with beautiful long, black hair took Breanna’s vitals and smiled,assuring us we were in good hands.
In that moment, I felt the comforting hands of God holding us tight. Earlier I’d felt stricken with panic. But now felt saturated with peace.
I looked over at my precious daughter and a smile washed over her frail face.
“Mom, I had a six-year streak going and now I’ve gotta start all over!”
I thought back to where we’d stood earlier that day. On top of Mt. Azakeh, overlooking the valley of Elah. The place where David slayed the giant.
And here we both were–in a hospital emergency room. We’d just walked through our own valley, staring our giants face-to-face.
My daughter’s worst fear? Ingesting nuts…knowing it could be deadly.
My worst fear? Something tragic taking the life of my child…and feeling out of control to fix it.
I believe God sometimes allows us to experience our worst fears so we can experience the truth that He is more powerful than anything we fear.
We pray for the giants to stay away so we don’t have to face them.
But sometimes the giants march out right in front of us. A decision must be made.
Will we let them threaten us and leave us paralyzed? (This is what King Saul and his soldiers did when they looked at Goliath.)
Or will we look to God for strength and by faith let Him fight the giants for us?
God fought the giants for us and provided exactly what we needed that night:
*A doctor in our group who understood the urgency of the situation.
*A hospital close by, which I found out later was one of the best in Jerusalem.
*An amazing medical team who acted quickly and accordingly.
*Breanna experienced swelling and hives, but no anaphylactic shock.
*The hotel paid for our medical bill in full.
After four hours of observation,Breanna was released. We were all washed over with exhaustion. But we stepped out into the streets of Jerusalem praising God, knowing the situation could have been so much worse.
We’d come face-to-face with our giants that day. And just like David, we walked away victorious.
I don’t know what giants you are facing today, but I can promise you this:
If you look to God for strength and put your faith in Him, He will be your giant slayer.
Blessings to you!
Check out my book Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul!