We have all struggled with fear in some way, shape or form. I had never known fear so strongly until I became a mother.
I am a nurse and I was at work one day when I was 23 weeks pregnant with my first baby. The pregnancy was going well, the baby seemed healthy. Drew and I were over the moon in love with this girl and we hadn’t even met her yet. Half way through my 12-hour shift at work I noticed my belly started to ache. A new kind of ache, one I had never felt before. It was probably nothing, just normal pregnancy aches and pains. It didn’t go away. I finally told my charge nurse and asked to take a break for a few minutes. Maybe some rest and water would make it go away. Nope… I worked on the Women’s unit at our hospital and I finally got the nerve to tell one of the physicians. She said it was probably nothing, but just to be safe, I should have a nurse put me on a fetal monitor for a few minutes. One of my coworkers reassured me it was normal. Your belly stretches and grows so quickly during pregnancy that it’s common to feel lots of strange aches and pains. The nurse hooked me up and immediately her face changed… I could see it written on her face; she couldn’t hide it… she was immediately afraid… no I wasn’t having normal pregnancy pains… I was having contractions every 2 minutes!
The nurses and doctors at my tiny hospital did everything they could to stop my contractions, everything that SHOULD have stopped my contractions… but nothing worked. The charge nurse came and sat on my hospital bed and I could see the fear in her eyes. A fear that most patients didn’t see, but as my friend and coworker, I understood the fears she didn’t have the courage to tell me. She explained that they were going to send me in an ambulance to a bigger hospital so that they could better care for me and my unborn baby. The truth was that our tiny hospital could not save my baby’s life if she was born there. She was too premature. Our tiny hospital had no NICU and if she was born there I would lose her.
I will never forget the doctor at the big hospital in San Diego looking at me two days later and saying, “Congratulations, you made it to 24 weeks, your baby is now viable.” I felt a pit deep in my stomach. I couldn’t think of a single word to say in response. But my mind raced with the thoughts that “You mean yesterday she wasn’t viable? Yesterday, if she had been born you wouldn’t have fought to save her life? Today you might fight for her life, but her chances of survival are slim to none.” I had never been so afraid in all my life. I spent the next three months on strict bedrest, in the hospital, on constant drips of medications, with constant contractions that would not stop and afraid every single moment that I might lose my baby girl.
The deeper I love, the more intense my fears of loss and pain are. There is heartache, loss, sickness, and sadness in this world. It is inevitable, but it is not what we were made for. We were made to love deeply and never experience loss. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. But unfortunately, because of sin, it is. As I get older and open my heart up more to love others, the more I find myself afraid of what might happen, who I might lose, and the heartache I will have to endure.
But fear is a terrible master. It prevents you from loving deeply. From living in the moment and enjoying the here and now. It sucks the life from you and controls you. It keeps you in prison. It doesn’t let you live life to the fullest, because if you do, you’ll just get hurt again. Fear is a liar. Fear whispers to me and tells me that I need to brace myself for the next loss around the corner. Fear tells me it’s only a matter of time until I lose a family member and my heart will break. Fear steals my joy and my peace.
So, what is a girl to do? God says “Fear not” in the Bible 365 times! Seriously! It’s one of the most repeated commands in the Bible. I think God said it so many times because he knew this would be our struggle. He knew we needed a reminder for every single day of the year, not to let fear control us, and to live in faith.
I think faith is the opposite of fear. Faith is trusting God although we will experience pain and heartache in this life. Faith is knowing that God is good even though the world around us is bad. Faith is trusting that even though awful things happen, God is still sovereign and he finds a way to orchestrate good in our lives in spite of the bad. My soul will be downcast at times, it will naturally struggle against the fact that this is not the way it should be. My soul yearns for heaven. For an eternal love that never ends. For no pain and no more tears. I need to keep my eyes on my hope. Hope in God. Hope in a God who has invited me into heaven with Him one day. A God who is preparing a place for me in heaven in fact. Hope in God that He will be by my side in the pain and he will bless me with good in this life too. Faith is saying even though I do not understand, even though the world around me looks bleak, I put my eyes on God who is good and light.
By the grace of God, I did not lose my baby girl. God protected and preserved her life. He heard the prayers of so many saints who petitioned on her behalf. My daughter, Grace, was born healthy and strong at 36 weeks gestation. She was a miracle and I thank God every day that he protected her. She is a gift that I did not deserve, but one I will never forget. Today that baby girl is 10 years old, smart, spunky, and full of life.
Not all stories have this perfect happy ending. In fact, I still grieve over the child that my best friend lost 3 years ago. I will never know why God protected my baby and not hers. I will never in this life time understand this broken world we live in. But I do know that I feel like a foreigner and it is because God wants me to never forget that this is not my home. I was made for more. I was made for eternity. May I live each day with eternity in mind and my eyes on my God, not my circumstances and fears.
If you are afraid today or suffering loss today, I’m sorry friend. I pray you find comfort in the arms of our good, good Father who loves you.