Faith in the Face of Fear
After the birth of my daughter almost 17 months ago, a lot obviously changed. Once you become a parent, you realize how impactful your decisions are to this tiny human who relies on you to survive. Things you thought you could never do, you do swiftly because of their dependence on you. Things you once did without much thought you may never do again.
And sometime since her birth I became riddled with fear. It's a rare day when I don't have vivid clips in my mind of yet another way that my child or husband might die or become seriously injured.
I’m pretty sure fear is trying to ruin my life. And I’m not talking about the fear that ensues when someone comes around a corner and surprises me; which is no laughing matter due to my physical recoil coupled with the inward shrieking muffled by my heart jumping in my throat and pounding at a machine gun pace. Like my old boss says, what a waste of adrenaline! Or, how I see visions of going to prison for accidental spousal homicide by fingernail to the jugular induced by tickle torture from Charlie. Let me be clear, tickling me is NOT ok. Not now. Not ever.
I’m talking about the uncontrollable paranoia that comes from having a child I love so much that the very thought of her being in pain or me living without her sends shock waves through my hormonally-challenged, PCOS-riddled self. This type of fear consumes my goals and dreams and keeps me focused on avoiding the things that might bring my fears to pass.
Now, I don’t have a PhD in psychology, or theology or social work, but I’m pretty sure fear is always based in the future. You can be haunted by something from the past but fear is the unknown of a future event. Guess what else is future oriented? Faith. You don’t need faith for something that’s happened, only for what’s to come.
But aren’t there healthy types of fear? The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And many things certainly deserve respect; which could be called fear if you use the word that way. But the verse isn’t really talking about fear as much as it is perspective. If I could truly see how awesome, mighty and loving God is, nothing would seem terrifying, particularly when He says he loves me, is with me, and opposes my enemies.
In the midst of all this thinking the other day, I also came to the realization that I don’t read my Bible daily anymore. At some point I began to try to "fit it in" my day, and you know how that goes. It usually doesn't.
So I decided to start the Bible in a Year plan if only to ensure I get in the Word daily. I used to be able to distinguish between discernment and fear. Now I can’t tell the difference and I’m pretty sure it’s because I can’t recognize His voice anymore.
In Genesis 12, Abraham (His name is still Abram at this point, but we’ll just refer to him as Abraham) has been called by the Lord to leave His country with promises of blessings and a great nation.
During the journey through Egypt Abraham realizes that his wife, Sarah (Sarai), is such a babe (quoted from the Janny Semi-international Version) that others will kill him in order to take her as their wife. He tells her to lie to the Egyptians to hide their marriage. They are indeed questioned about Sarah and after being told that she is Abraham’s sister, they pay him for her. And Abraham lets them take her to Pharaoh! At that point, God steps in to defend Sarah since Abraham was sucking at it. He sends plagues to afflict Pharaoh and she is released.
In Genesis 15, God promises Abram a son. An heir. Since his wife, Sarah was old, they decide to use her maidservant, Hagar, to bring the heir into the world. She conceives and gives birth to Ishmael. God comes to Abraham again and tells him, no, Sarah is the one who will give birth to your son. However unbelievable, God delivered on his promise and she conceived and bore Isaac. But strife was already within the family since Ishmael was Abraham’s first born but not the son of the promise.
And so it began: the Jews, the sons of Isaac. The Arabs, the sons of Ishmael.
So the major conflict that still stands between Israel and the Arab states? This is where the conflict originates. Think about that for a minute. Abraham and Sarah’s lack of faith in God’s promises lead to thousands of years of strife between their descendants.
I have also read commentaries that conclude when Sarah was rescued by God from Pharaoh, Pharaoh gave Abraham many gifts, including...wait for it....Hagar the maidservant! Yikes – it all started with Abraham’s fear of being killed.
It is so easy to say, Abraham, you idiot, why didn't you trust God in all of this? Why would you fear the Egyptians or being childless with a God like yours?! Then I realized I have been acting like this version of Abraham for so long. Do you ever feel like you know God's promises, but yet feel like you have to "set Him up" for success? You think you can rely on your own strength and strategies only to fail?
When I re-read these stories about Abraham and Sarah, I realized how unbiblical my fear is and that my fear possibly stems from reversed priorities. Currently, my health and raising Sawyer teeter back and forth for first and second place in my life.
Now trust me, I know that raising my daughter is something that God chose Charlie and I to do, and it's important; probably one of the most important things I'll ever do, but she cannot be my first priority. Or my second. I don't think it’s wrong to invest time, heck, a lot of time educating yourself on child rearing and health. It just needs to be fit around our real priorities, the ones God gives us.
The Bible tells us that along with God being the first priority, our spouse comes next. This has not been happening; they play 4th or 5th fiddle in my world and that's not ok. Yet it's so easy to let happen.
One of my oldest friends stopped me in the middle one of my research-frenzies regarding some medical decisions for Sawyer and reminded me that Sawyer's days, my days, Charlie's days - they are already numbered. God knows the day in which we will leave this earth to be united with Him. Making wise decisions is one thing, but working myself up over every little thing is pointless because ultimately I am not in control. That scares me and comforts me at the same time.
I don't know much, but I do know that God provides for my every need. I know that no matter how much I read, I cannot heal myself. No matter how much I try, I can't keep Sawyer in a protection bubble. After having time in the word and in prayer like I have this week I am sure of this fact: that if I make Him my priority, and my husband my second, the other things I worry about will become less of a burden.
Perhaps God will choose to heal me. Perhaps he will simply enable me to cope much better along with proper diet, supplements and exercise. Perhaps he will show me the purpose in all of this that will make it all worthwhile. Perhaps none or all of that...Perhaps something greater.
But I'm confident when I truly trust God with the things I live in fear of, they will no longer be worthy of my fear.
Number of West Wing references in this post: 2
Thanks to my hubby for helping edit and add to this post and for the amazing sunset photo taken from our home!
Special West Wing Video Clip for mah peeps: