This is the picture of the kind of iron lung I was in each day for four years. Thankfully, my journey in the iron lung ended in 1992. My iron lung rolled out the front door of my family home in Emmottville nearly 30 years ago. But, the iron lung and my journey in it left behind lessons in the darkness which changed my life forever. As God has said in Isaiah 45:3, I will give you hidden treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, who calls you by your name.
I hope these lessons from my iron lung will help you at this time.
Lesson 1 – We can overcome fear and uncertainty by trusting in God – When Dr. Vallbona placed me in the iron lung in 1988 at TIRR, I was overcome with fear. I felt that if I got in the iron lung I would never get out. Likewise, there is a great deal of uncertainty and fear in the Pandemic. Will it ever end? What will it do to me, my family, my job, my relationships with friends, and my ability to pay the bills or keep my business going? In the midst of this COVID 19 mess you can pray to God, as I did every dark day in the iron lung, and ask that God be with you. We are all on a greater and more important journey in life with God. God has special plans for you which are far above what is going on in the depths of the Pandemic.
Lesson 2 – When carrying the burden is too much for you to bear, you can ask God to carry the load you cannot bear alone – When I could not breathe for myself, the iron lung breathed for me. Likewise, God’s strength supplanted my weakness until I could exit the iron lung. During this Pandemic, when you feel vulnerable and weak, you can pray to God to receive strength, the newness of life, and the zest for living
Lesson 3 – When looking for hope in the Pandemic, all you need to do is turn to God in prayer and you will find hope – Every day I searched for the light at the end of the metal tunnel I was in for 4 years. In this Pandemic wherever you are you can turn your eyes in prayer to see God’s face. Just like a sunflower instinctively turns to face the sun to receive what it needs to thrive and survive, in facing or turning to God in prayer, you will receive the hope you need. The things to live for. To look forward to.
Lesson 4 – Do not fight what is required to succeed in the Pandemic. Be flexible – With God’s help, I learned that I could not fight the process of my recovery in the iron lung. I had to yield to the process. If I fought the iron lung, I would be a part of the problem and not part of the solution to recovery. Choose to be the best part of the process of handling the Pandemic. In prayerfully submitting to my iron lung, the iron lung became an unexpected place of worship. My sanctuary. Its breath became my breath. Its skin became my skin. The iron lung had no purpose in life without me. I could not fulfill my purpose without it. Moving through the Pandemic is a process too. Rigidity and resistance only make things worse. With flexibility during the Pandemic, you will be much better on the other side of it, but only if you submit to and agree to do what is required to make the most of it.
Lesson 5 – The Pandemic can be a teacher and an invitation to learn important lessons – In the iron lung, I asked God to show me things I could take with me when I got out of it. God answered my prayers. During the Pandemic, you can each learn lessons in this dark time. Happiness and success may be measured by what you gain in the Pandemic and not by what you’ve lost. For me, I am the best me I’ve ever been. My full-time calling as a Collaborative Divorce and family law attorney has never been more rewarding, productive, and helpful to others. That is because of the lessons I learned during my time in the iron lung.
God, please help each of us, the world, our nation, and the communities in which we live emerge from the Pandemic as better reflections of Your love on Earth.
God, please help us to find the treasures You promised were hidden in dark times. Treasures that deepen our relationship with one another. Lessons that bring us ever closer to You. Lessons to exit the Pandemic with which enable us to serve You better. To be more able to love others more deeply and live life more richly than ever before.
God, time like mine in an iron lung or our time today in facing the Pandemic is too important in Your kingdom to waste. May we not fail to find the riches within us You promised were waiting there for us. Amen
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Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to the Bending Angel website.