"Suck it Up!"

I have been uncomfortable in closed spaces for several years. It has nothing to do with claustrophobia induced by elevators or large crowds of people. My issues causing panic and anxiety emerged during the advanced diagnostic testing (MRI Scans) my doctors repeatedly prescribed to determine the source of chronic back spasms thirty years ago. As it turned out, regular exercise and dropping forty pounds of excess weight were the needed remedies!

While I haven’t had the need to undergo another MRI in recent years, my urologist recently recommended that I undergo a PET C-Scan to track how my prostate cancer was progressing. I immediately became anxious about that test. Although C-Scans are not as confining, they do require the patient to remain completely motionless for about 30 minutes while the scanner passes from head to toe. I thought, “Oh boy! Here we go again! To tolerate this, I may need a light sedative this time!”

"Don't be a baby! Man up!"

Two days out from the test, I engaged the doctor’s nurse about my “scanner anxiety” and she readily agreed to send over a one-pill prescription to our local pharmacy. The day before the big day, I waited all day for them to call or text about that prescription, but no contact was forthcoming. I mildly complained to Monique that something had broken down and it was too late now. She immediately advised, “Well, you’ll just have to suck it up!” She has never been the warm cushy counselor-type, and that was direct! I got the message! I heard, “Man Up!” from the woman who has had considerable experience “Woman Upping” over the years!

I did a minor deep dive into the etymology of that prescribed phrase, “Suck it up!” It seems that it has some roots in the military when soldiers were emboldened during tough times to “Suck up their chests!” with determination to push through their adversities. That’s what I was determined to do!

I worked out a plan and by God’s grace executed it perfectly. I told the young technician who secured me in place for the scan that I was going to close my eyes throughout the procedure and take myself to “another place.” She said she would monitor my time and give me a status report every ten minutes. I began praying for our family – children and grandchildren. There are usually enough needs represented by their number to keep me on task for several minutes. After this time of intercession, I shifted to preaching and praying through the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer.

I did hear those time updates incrementally throughout the test, but I guess I didn’t focus on them much. I think I was in such a state of peace and relaxation that I momentarily fell asleep just before the machine completed the scan. I was startled awake with the affirmation, “We’re done! You did really well!”

Soon, I was sitting up and I heard the tech say, “Well, now you can check that off your list of things to do!” I wasn’t sure if she meant the test, my praying, the preaching of the scriptures or my sleeping! Over the years, my preaching has had that “sedative effect” upon many parishioners listening. And I have even been known to fall asleep while reviewing those same messages on Sunday afternoons! 😊

Do you remember the instruction of the Lord to Joshua after Moses’ passing? He repeatedly charged this young leader who would assume the awesome responsibility of leading Israel into the Promise Land. This the charge of assurance that Joshua heard again and again, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, NLT).

I have taken great comfort in the confronting love and presence of the Lord during anxious times. Sometimes we need to be challenged to “suck it up!” That doesn’t mean we embolden ourselves with more self-effort. It does mean that with God’s grace we are able to be strong and courageous because He is with us wherever we go and in whatever we face! Comfort one another with these words!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


  1. Your blog reminded me of how I remained calm during my MRI and the ablations I have had for my pain. I too always say The Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23. When it was over I would tell the doctor how many times I said Psalm 23. So every time I had a procedure he would ask how many times I said my Psalm. I really enjoyed your blog about God’s comfort and strength.

    1. Thanks for your reflections! Good to know that others are facing and have faced their challenges with prayer and Scripture!


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