One of my friends from church suffered a panic attack during the church service today and I was asked to go and help him.
I’ve never had to deal with panic attacks before, and found that there wasn’t really much else I could do except:
a) Get him to breathe into a paper bag
b) Sit with him and make him feel safe whilst patiently waiting for the episode to pass
c) Pray to God for peace and calmness to fill his heart
Whilst I sat with this friend watching him breathe into a bag, trembling from all the catecholamines knocking about in him, and crying from the distressing anxiety that had so abruptly hit him, I felt strange within myself. I realised that I felt an overwhelming love for him.
It was a really odd feeling. I don’t love him the way I love my best and closest friends with whom I share a strong relationship. In fact, I hardly know this friend at all! I definitely do not love him in a romantic way either- he’s married for crying out loud!
As I looked at him intently, I realised that I love him simply because he is a precious child of God. I love him because he is part of my church family. I love him because God loves him. My heart genuinely ached to see him so crushed by his panic attack; I really wanted him to get better.
Isn’t it amazing to belong to Christ? When we believe in Him, we join the rest of the body of Christ on this earth- His Church. The Church brings together all kinds of people, even those who are least likely to become friends. In fact, it does more than making us friends- the Church binds us together like a family.
Christ is the head of this wonderful family. And because His love overfloweth, I can be filled with an engulfing love for someone in His Church that I hardly know at all. Let me love the things that you love dear Lord, and let me treasure the people whom you treasure.