There are certain life events that reveal to us if we really believe what we say we believe. At eight months pregnant, I can say that the prospect of having a baby has definitely been an occasion for such reflection.
My due date is quickly approaching, and with it, my anxiety has increased. I’m afraid of the pain, afraid that I won’t have the physical or mental strength to give birth, afraid that my husband won’t make it to the hospital, afraid something will go wrong, afraid my baby won’t survive, afraid of the recovery, afraid of losing sleep, afraid of bringing home this person I don’t know. In other words, fear has consumed me.
To my detriment, my first reaction to this kind of fear is not to draw near to God, but to try to seize control of whatever I can. I make to-do lists. Suddenly, house projects I put off long before I got pregnant become urgent. I fixate on what could go wrong, and try to plan every minute from now until after giving birth—from getting my car cleaned to meal planning to family visits. I buy all the things I might need as if stores suddenly won’t exist after I give birth and all the people who have offered to help me will change their minds.
Of course, none of these actually relieves the anxiety. If anything, my fear is only exacerbated because my feeble attempts at controlling my circumstances are temporary at best and at worst, outright rebellious against God, who is in control of all things. Because at its very core, my fear is the result of disbelief in the God who has only ever been faithful to me.
This fear demonstrates three major areas of unbelief.
Misunderstanding God’s Promises
I regularly struggle with fear, it just happens to manifest itself differently depending on the circumstance. But each occasion has this in common: an incorrect view of God’s promises, which leads to disbelief in what He has promised. When I am fearful, I am also entitled. I wrongly assume that God promises all kinds of things that he, in fact, has not promised me.
God does not promise to give me exactly what I want. He does not promise that things will work out exactly as I planned. Though he’s blessed us with a smooth pregnancy so far, he does not promise uncomplicated labor and delivery, nor does he promise to give me a healthy child after birth. In short, God does not promise that things will be easy.
But, as hard as it is to swallow these misguided expectations that have become idols, I know that what God does promise is so much greater.
God promises never to leave us (Deuteronomy 31:8, Psalm 23:4). He promises to give us strength (Isaiah 40:29) and help (Isaiah 41:13). He promises forgiveness (1 John 1:9) and eternal life (John 3:16). He sets us free from the power of sin and death (John 8:36). He promises to be our refuge (Psalm 9:9) and to give us peace (Philippians 4:7).
I don’t have to fear because everything falls under the umbrella of these promises. My hope does not rest in what happens in the next two months. My hope lies in the past—Christ’s life, death, and resurrection on my behalf; in the present—the Spirit’s perpetual presence, help, comfort and Christ’s intercession; and in the future—an eternity with God in the new heavens and the new earth.
Mistrusting God’s Character
The fear that leads me to misunderstand God’s promises also causes me to mistrust his character. When I think that he’s promised me things he hasn’t, I begin to believe he doesn’t actually keep his promises. I stop believing that he is faithful and loving. I start believing that he is spiteful and distant. Instead of believing what God says about himself in Scripture, I forget everything I know and have experienced to be true. I choose, instead, to believe my own twisted, sinful notions of him.
It would be easy to play this off as a moment of weakness. Surely the Lord understands that I have fears, which lead to doubt. Surely he sees that I’m struggling not to drown in these fears.
Yes, God does understand and he is my comfort and refuge. But this is also a serious offense against a righteous and holy God. Disbelief is never something to take lightly and fear is sinful (2 Timothy 1:7). By dwelling in it—by choosing to believe lies over truth— I have rebelled against the God who created me, against the God who sent his only Son to save me from these very sins.
Repentance, then, is the answer. Repent of this fear, repent of exchanging truth for lies, and believe. Believe that Christ is both greater than my fear and the answer to it. Believe that God is who he says he is. He is faithful. He is good. He is just. He is merciful.
Misinterpreting My Circumstances
Finally, when I am fearful, I also misinterpret my circumstances. I have this incredible knack for turning blessings into burdens. Instead of looking on what the Lord has given me, and being thankful, I’ve only focused on what I’m afraid of and it’s caused me to feel burdened and inconvenienced. I have selfishly turned my eyes inward and I’m ashamed that this is the case.
The truth is, though the Lord never promised any of these things, he has given me an easy pregnancy, a baby that has been healthy and growing, a strong marriage, a supportive community, family that is excited and willing to do whatever it takes to help us care for this child. God has blessed us out of the overflow of his grace. He delights in giving good gifts to his children.
Scripture tells us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). If I can’t rejoice in the best of times, I will not be able to find joy in difficult times. But there is always something for which to give thanks and by giving thanks, I can rightly view my circumstances through the lens of one who has been given everything she needs in Christ.
Finding the “Yes”
When I feel like fear is lurking, waiting to pounce, the answer is not found in anything that comes from myself. The answer is found only in the God who is sufficient in all circumstances. He will give us what we need when we need it. He knows the future and he will sustain us at all times. God’s promises are greater than anything we could imagine or manufacture ourselves. And we can rest in those promises, knowing that in Christ, every one of God’s promises finds its “yes.” (2 Corinthians 1:20).