Just over a year ago now, life took a turn that changed us forever. I say us, because my son, then 7 years old, was the one who experienced the change firsthand, while his dad and I were forced to stand by and watch the whole story unfold. Utterly helpless, we walked through that experience without any semblance of control. The medical team informed us that he’d had a stroke and life was lived at the hospital for the following five weeks.
For those of you with children, of any age now, it will be easy for you to empathize. The shock, the pain, the questions, the suffering, the unknown right there at your door and there’s no choice on whether to welcome those emotions in. They’re there, staring at you and awaiting your response. Where do you turn? To mind numbing methods like drugs, prescription or otherwise? Inward, letting your selfish thoughts of how hard your life is consume you, leading you on the downward spiral to depression? Acting out, allowing anger to dictate how you react to those around you?
I’ve always had the tendency to worry and be anxious about even minute details of life and this one was big. My first requested item to be brought down to the hospital was my Bible. I knew it was the only source that may possibly bring any order to this mess. My method of Bible reading is to read through it as a whole, from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, over and over again.
When I finally had the time to open it, it was bookmarked in Mark. In chapter 5, verse 36, Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Those five words were simple to remember and repeatedly played in my mind for the weeks that followed. A prayer of sorts.
I wasn’t blindly assured by them that God would bring us out of this unscathed. In fact, I was wholeheartedly preparing myself for the myriad of paths this experience could lead us down. But, at the same time, I was finding my faith being refined at every moment. All the while, finding the strength to not neglect the heart and mind of my son as I tried to speak God’s truth and trustworthy purposes through his suffering. His soul was thirsty, his body had turned on him and he was in need of solace even more than we were.
I was afraid. Perhaps mostly that I would lose my mind and let my faith take a backseat to the circumstances that life had brought upon us. I was afraid that I’d choose to rely on the drugs, the depression, the anger that I listed above. Purely by God’s grace and His mercy, I was gifted with the fortitude to power through those weeks, depending and relying on Him to lead me through. And the weeks that followed, the months now, challenged me to stand firm on the very words of the God I worship. To fear Him, not the circumstances, that He ordains in this life is a daily battle in my mind. Some days I lose that battle. Every day I fight the exhausting thoughts of fearing that another health issue will arise, that I may lose the control that I naively think I have over the details in my life, that there may be trials in my future I may not be able to power through with my own willpower. All useless! An utter waste of time.
God has given us a plethora of verses to chew on concerning His sovereignty and providence. Perhaps as many regarding the proper fear we are to have, concerning Him. This isn’t to say that circumstances shouldn’t have an effect on our hearts and minds, but I believe the direction we take when these mortal fears knock on the doors of our minds, is to submit all of them to Him.
“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:36
Don’t fear the unknown, that nightmare that grips you and paralyzes you. Have faith in Him who holds us and claims us as His.
Maybe the next challenge that life brings will break me. Maybe I’ll lose my mind and succumb to fleshly escapes. I’m not ignorant in thinking that the battle was won and I’ve got this licked. I still live each day in a world laden with sin, disappointment, pain and brokenness, but this is not my home. I’m not meant to be comfortable here. I don’t want to be. I long to be lavished by the promises He gives us when we are done down here. Until then, I only hope that He continues to grace me with the ability to see Him as He’s revealed Himself through Scripture.