It was taco night at the Chapin house.  I was about five years old, and looking forward to a yummy supper.  Apparently, I was a little too eager for the meal because part way through my taco, I swallowed a bite that I had not chewed well enough.

Suddenly, the air which normally flowed into and out of my lungs abruptly stopped. A piece of taco shell had lodged in my throat, and I couldn’t breathe.  I must have looked panicked because Mom and Dad both noticed.

Mom tried to stick her finger in my mouth far enough to reach and dislodge the stuck piece of taco shell, but to no success.  They raised my arms.  They beat on my back.  But nothing was working, and my face was beginning to turn blue.  I think all of us were probably crying and fearful by this point.

My Dad turned to my oldest sister Cathy and asked her if she had been taking a first aid/CPR classes in high school.  She had been.  He asked if she had learned that maneuver where you squeeze someone and help free them from choking.  Cathy acknowledged that she had learned it, but wasn’t sure she knew well enough how to do it without hurting me.  Dad told her that she had to try because it might be my only hope.

My face was more like purple by the time Cathy stood behind me, wrapped her arms around my torso, clasped one hand around the other and suddenly thrust that fist into my diaphragm.  I grunted, but nothing came out.  She tried again.  Nothing. Mom was crying.  Dad was yelling to try again.  Cathy was scared, but she gave one more big thrust.

With that thrust, the air inside me blasted the triangle-shaped piece of taco shell up out of my throat, through my mouth, past my lips and hurled it across the room several feet.  I sucked in precious, life-giving air, and the the rest of the family drank in sweet relief.

There were lots of hugs that night.  And Mom and Dad were so proud of Cathy… so happy that she had been taking that class at that very moment in our family’s history.

I don’t know if Cathy enjoyed that class or not, but none of us cared that night because it paid off.  Her willingness to take on the challenge of that class ended up providing her with the very knowledge and skill I needed her to have in order to save my life.

In much the same way, God will often allow us each to go through some challenging situations in life in order to give us the ability we need to help someone else.  Our difficulty can be necessary for a moment down the road when we will be needed.

Your serious health issue may give you the ability to show someone else how to appreciate the life and health they have.  Your financial challenges may help you show someone else how to live on a budget.  Your broken relationship may help you show someone else how to love more.

So if you’re going through a challenging or difficult situation right now in life, respect it… don’t reject it.  It may prove to give you exactly what you need to make a difference in the life of someone else.


Author: Allen Chapin

- Christian, husband, dad, friend, leader, author and speaker - Life Purpose = Love & Encourage, Offering Grace & Hope - Life Motto = Living for the applause of nail-scarred hands - Life Verse = Matthew 25:21

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