Devotional: Faith over Fear
This past week was difficult. Some of you already know that I was diagnosed with gestational hypertension at my most recent doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, 5/18. At 32 (now 33) weeks pregnant, this is not the news we were hoping to hear. Before Josh and I were married, we had both discussed and agreed that we wanted children, but we had no concept of when the Lord would bless us with a family. I had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2017 and in the conversation I had with my doctor, I asked if this was something that would affect my ability to conceive a child. My doctor said that it wouldn’t directly affect this, but that my UC was caused by stress and that stress plays a role in one’s ability to conceive. When Josh and I were first married, we knew that we wanted a family, but we were trusting the timing to the Lord; however, if I am being honest, I thought that the journey to us having a baby would be long and tiring. So, when we found out we were expecting, we were overjoyed! In the first several months of our pregnancy, everything came together to show how God had provided for this child. I felt so confident and assured that God had planned for Wesley and was going to protect him, bringing a beautiful, healthy baby into the world on or around July 9th (our due date). But as we received news of this diagnosis last week and the implications of it, my faith in the Lord’s plan for us and for Wesley was shaken.
Despite several reassuring conversations with a range of medical professionals to family and friends, I have found myself living in fear of this diagnosis and what is yet to come. I don’t like being afraid. I never have. I like being in control and knowing what is going to happen. On the car ride home from the appointment, I told Josh that one of the most frustrating things my doctor told me about this diagnosis was that there was nothing I could do. “Can I exercise more or change my diet?” I had asked. Her answer was that this was not something I could control and there was nothing I could do to change my body’s reaction to being pregnant. Perhaps this is something that will change as they gather more information. I am currently awaiting a call from my doctor to discuss some tests they ran on Thursday, but for at least the past week, I have been completely helpless in my desire to do something to fix this. I have struggled with this feeling as I know that I am never in control of things; God is. But as I reflected on my desire, I realized that often times, I convince myself that I am playing a part in controlling or contributing to my life and my salvation. My desire to fix this diagnosis and the subsequent fear that set in as a result of my inability to do so, was proof that I was not trusting this to the Lord, but to myself and my own efforts.
I am thankful that in God’s grace, He has revealed this weakness to me. Although it has been a difficult and humbling experience, He knew that I needed to be made aware of my dependence upon myself instead of His promises. As I listened to Pastor Barry’s sermon on Sunday, I was convicted and encouraged by his words: “God’s saving grace is only for those who come to God by faith; not by their religious performance, but by grace alone in faith alone… So often we think we can earn or keep God’s love and acceptance by our performance.” In my desire to fix this diagnosis, I was putting my faith in myself and my works, desperately trying to earn God’s favor instead of faithfully trusting that He loves me and Wesley and has a plan for us to glorify Him. Pastor Barry goes on to say that our salvation is about complete surrender. He says, “It’s giving your life to the one who gave His life for you in complete and total trust.” In the scripture reading from 1 Kings, we read about God’s provision for Elijah, a widow, and her family. God told Elijah that He had commanded a widow to feed Him. He made a plan for him and worked in what would have otherwise been a hopeless situation to provide for Elijah and the widow and her family, affirming the faith we have in His promises. So why, when we are faced with difficulties, is it so hard for us to trust that God will provide in the same way? Why am I struggling to believe that God has a plan to love and care for me and my child? Is it because I know that sometimes, the Lord doesn’t answer my prayers in the way that I think He should? Or is it because my only conception of God providing for me and Wesley would be for Him to take this away entirely so that I don’t have to trust Him at all?
My dear friends, I don’t know God’s plan for the duration of this pregnancy, nor do I know His plans for our child as he prepares to enter this world. But I do know that God is full of love and grace, and that we only access this grace by faith. I haven’t been living by faith the last few days; I have been living in fear. Maybe you can relate. Perhaps you are struggling with a medical diagnosis or a difficult relationship or an obstacle with work that feels out of your control and you are afraid of the outcome. I want to reassure you, brothers and sisters, that you are not alone. But we need not live in fear when we have every reason to walk, hand in hand, with our Lord in faith - faith and hope in the assurance of God and His promises to provide for us. That doesn’t mean that things will always work out the way we think they should, but as God so lovingly and masterfully provided a way for us to live in eternity with Him, free from sin through His son, Jesus Christ, we can trust that His plan for our lives is good and find rest in the knowledge that He has already provided all that we could possibly need. It is not up to us; His ways are higher than ours. He is trustworthy, He is good, and He loves you.
Photo Cred: Sincerely Media