It has been almost a year since Christian author and pastor Max Lucado revealed he is dealing with an ascending aortic aneurysm.
He recently shared with The Christian Post how he has been dealing with his health diagnosis during this time, "As far as dealing with anxiety, I really spiraled downward," he explained.
"I'm 67, almost 68 years old. And I'm finally coming to grips with the fact that I'm not getting younger. I'm a slow learner," Lucado says. "I kept thinking, 'I'm going to dodge all these major health issues.' So, for the first two or three days, it was really a wake-up call."
During this stressful time after learning about his current medical condition, Lucado received an unexpected miracle. The anxiety began to go away.
"I really felt, in a supernatural way one morning ... I felt it lift," he says. "I really did feel it just lift. And it's not that I was healed, because I'm not, but the fear or the anxiety was lifted. And I attribute that to the Holy Spirit. I sought prayer and I received prayer, and so I can say now honestly, I do not live in fear of that."
This does not mean that there are no valleys to go along with Max's peaks. He tells about enduring through "severe" mood swings that are brought on by the medication he is currently taking for his condition.
"I've always been a pretty happy-go-lucky guy. But when I started taking this beta blocker, I found myself just kind of a bit sad," he said.
This journey gave Lucado the opportunity to lean into and grow in his relationship with the Holy Spirit, even after all these years in ministry.
"In that sense, it's been a blessing because it's caused me to be more aware of leaning on the Holy Spirit more, and it's also caused me to be more compassionate toward people who have battled mood swings or depression, whether slight or severe, all of their lives because I do not," he said. "I have been spared that particular struggle. But now I'm much more compassionate with a person who goes through that, what they may be feeling."
Lucado discusses in depth his growth with the Holy Spirit in his new book, and contends that Christians need the Holy Spirit to deal with the increasing levels of stress Americans are dealing with.
"We're a worn-out people, we're worn out or absolutely exhausted," he said, quoting statistics that show 84% of Americans admitting to feeling stressed at least one day a week.
"That means that nearly nine out of 10 people you see walking down the street feel stress. That's not how we're intended to live. So, the Spirit gives life; the flesh is of no help at all. That is to say, my pep rallies, my self-motivation talks, that they're not helping me. I need help from outside, help from above," he said.
By tackling the issue many American Christians have of not believing in the biblical role and existence of the Holy Spirit, Lucado explains how getting back to basics with the Gospels will lead to a renewing of the church in America:
"We seem to have gotten a bit off track in terms of politics and controversies," Lucado says. "May the Lord bring us a new day in which we return to the simple message of the fact that God loves us. He came for us, and now He gives us power. And if we were to be a church of the Holy Spirit, I think that we would see those kinds of outpourings yet again."
Another important misconception that Lucado tackles is the expectation that Christianity is somehow an easy thing to live out. He highlights just how needed the Holy Spirit is to live an empowered Christian life in a sinful, cursed world:
"Jesus didn't say, 'In this world, some people have tribulation.' 'In this world, you will have tribulation,'" Lucado explains. "But then He said, 'Be of good cheer, because I've overcome the world.' So, whatever you're facing, Christ has already overcome it, and He will help you as you move forward.
"Do not buy into that lie that says if you were a better Christian, you wouldn't have these struggles," he says. "The fact of the matter is, sometimes, the fact that you are a Christian creates these struggles because the devil sees you as a candidate for his attack."
Even while dealing with his own personal, health issues, Lucado maintains a trust and faith in the Lord. This mentality and mindset to "practice what you preach" should serve as an example to others and, as Lucado says, "turn to your heavenly Father, who can help you face the struggle, and also turn to others.
"Don't try to shoulder this on your own. And don't beat yourself up," he implores. "I do think it's important for us to remember this life is not intended to last forever. We all will have afflictions, and we all will get sick. And unless Christ returns, we're all going to have a heart that stops beating at some point. And that's not bad because the minute we close our eyes to this earth is a minute we open our eyes to the new kingdom. And that will be the great thing; the great victory."
James Lasher is a Copy Editor for Charisma Media.
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