Finding the Surface to Breathe

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Thankfulness Can Destroy Fear

by Eric Elkin

Let all those who are suffering eat and be full!…I pray your hearts live forever!
— Psalm 22:26

When I was in elementary school, I practically lived at the YMCA. One of my favorite times was Saturday morning. Kids from all over would come to play in the gym and swim in the pool. Most of my memories of those mornings were good, except one, which still haunts me today. 

My bad experience happened while swimming in the pool. A group of us were jumping off the diving board and swimming to the bottom. We were trying to touch the bottom of the 14-foot deep pool before coming back up to the surface. 

One time, when I went down to the bottom, one of the other kids decided to play a joke on me. As I was coming to the surface, he stuck his hand out and stopped my head from getting out of the water. It caught me off guard and immediately I started to panic. I dropped down and tried to slide off to the side, but his hand trapped me again. This time he held his hand on my head and panic turned to fear. It wasn’t until I started grabbing his arms that he let me go.

When I got to the surface, he was standing there laughing. To him, it was nothing but a joke. To me, it felt like I was going to drown. That feeling has never, ever left me. It’s in my head every time I swim. Even when I am out of the water, when the day's problems are floating over my head, I remember the sensation of being trapped underwater. It is a feeling of inescapable fear.

The other sensation which has remained with me from that experience was the moment my head got above water. The feeling of fresh air filling my lungs. The joy and comfort of knowing the threat was gone. It is an incredible feeling and one that fills my heart with joy.

The funniest thing about the memory, it wasn’t real. I mean, my life was never really in danger, it only felt like it. The kid who held out his hand had no intention of harming me. And, I was never really that close to drowning, it was the fear of it which consumed me. The possibility of it being true which still haunts me.  The only real part was the sensation of freedom.

I wonder how many of our fears are genuinely life-threatening, and how many are just sensations overwhelming our brains. Psalm 22 reminds us, when life seems hopeless, praying and remembering the things to be thankful for can destroy fear. It allows us to find the surface and breathe new life again.

Click to read: Psalm 22: 25-31

Reflection Questions:

  • When was a time you were overcome with fear?
  • How did it feel when you found freedom from your fears?
  • How can memory help you overcome fear?
  • What memory of God’s love could you hold onto?

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