The Acceptable Sin
Trust Over Worry
“They will have no fear in bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” -Psalm 112:7
“Your baby is measuring over a month behind where he should be, he is not growing properly and appears to be malnourished…” the Dr. began as she explained the test results at my twenty-eight-week prenatal appointment. I felt the strength leaving my body as my mind began to swirl and my eyes welled up with tears. After months of battling hyperemesis gravidarum and being labeled “high risk”, I knew more complications were inevitable, but I wasn’t prepared for a diagnosis I had never even heard of, nor could I wrap my mind around all it might entail. In that moment, all I wanted was to hear that my baby would be healthy and okay, but there was no way to be assured of that yet. The what ifs loomed over me in an overwhelmingly heavy cloud as I walked out to my car. I gripped the steering wheel, fighting desperately to hold back the tears and panic that had been building up inside me over the last hour. “The Lord is your keeper” (Psalm 121:5a) I quoted, clutching my womb- this had been the verse I prayed over my baby throughout our difficult journey. God had kept and sustained us both thus far, would I trust Him to continue to do so?
Surrendering Our Control
If there is one thing a high-risk pregnancy, failed adoptions and the ups and downs of foster care have all taught me, it is that so much of motherhood is about surrendering what we cannot control. It is a constant battle between fleshly desires for the outcomes we desire, and the letting go of expectations we make- leaving it “all in the hands of the One who was wounded for us” as Elisabeth Elliot said. It is the realization that I am not in control of anything, God is the One who is in control. Yet how often I find myself having been bit by a serpent shaped lie that says I can plan and orchestrate all the details of my life. The lie produces fear when the reality crashes in that I actually cannot. Rather than getting control of all that I fear, fear has gotten control of me.
The desire to control our lives (or perhaps our children’s lives) is common among mothers. Worrying about our children is common among mothers. We share our worries and stresses with one another freely and openly. Worry is an acceptable sin that joins in many conversations, playdates and texts. It seems so normal and commonplace, I mean, what mother doesn’t worry? And if she didn’t, isn’t something wrong with her? Yet God has another way, a triumphant, victorious way for us to live. Jesus calls us to a different kind of life, one that is contrary to the world. He calls us to a life of trust. Trust is the opposite of worry; it requires that we believe all that God has told us about Himself. It requires that we believe He is better than everything else. It requires that we trust His goodness, His character and His grace. It requires that we look back on the ways He has provided for us and strengthened us in the past. We know what He has said and therefore we have the confidence in what He will do in the future. Trusting God requires that we believe He cares for us and that we keep our eyes on Him, not on our circumstances (1 Peter 5:7).
We can choose to lay our worries down at Jesus’ feet and trust Him with all our heart. When we do this, we will receive the “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” that God intends for us to have no matter what we are walking through. It is truly a constant surrender, a constant ebb and flow of releasing our fears, and accepting His grace- choosing to trust God through faith. From the beginning of motherhood, we are invited into an act of faith, accepting what we cannot control, choosing to believe in God’s wisdom, and daily surrendering our own fears, worries, expectations, timelines, and everything else up to the Lord. It’s all in His hands. Letting go and surrendering our fears, hands open and ready for His goodness. Finding rest in the peace only He can provide. Expecting Him to be faithful just as He has been in times past.
The Israelites were told over and over in Scripture to look back at how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. They were to remember the wonders at the Red Sea, His provision in the desert, how His rescue brought them into the promised land. In annual feasts, they were to celebrate what God had done for them and instruct their children about God’s faithfulness, but too often, they failed to remember. They turned away from trust in God and relied instead on themselves and on the culture around them. We are also called to remember God’s grace in our lives when worries creep in and the cares of life begin to weigh us down. When everything seems out of control, we must remember all that God has done and all that He continues to do. We must remember our own story of deliverance from sin, we must remember the lengths God went to and continues to go through in rescuing us from slavery through the shed blood of His Son on the cross. We must remember where God demonstrated His love (Romans 5:8). If He would sacrifice His own Son to save us, how will He not graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)? He saved us from our greatest fear- eternal separation from Him, how will He not carry us through all of our fears today? If Christ conquered death when He rose triumphantly from the grave, how can He not also resurrect our joy from the pit of worry and despair?
Grace For Today and Every Tomorrow
Like the Israelites, we also fail to remember God’s past faithfulness and stumble, but the gospel is there to remind us of His grace. Just as the Israelites had to look to the bronze serpent for healing in the wilderness, we need to look to Christ. Looking to the cross frees us from the burdens that weigh us down. It pulls us away from our inward focus, away from our efforts to control our life and focuses us back on the One who already accomplished it all. When Jesus spoke the words “It is finished” He shut the door on all our effort to control our lives, He put an end to all our strivings to get everything right in our own strength and He opened the door to freedom from sin, to everlasting rest and to a peace that surpasses all understanding. This life provides plenty of reasons to worry, but God gives us more reasons to trust. God has been faithful in the past by sending Jesus to rescue us from our sins, we can trust God with all of our worries and fears today, and tomorrow. When life’s unexpected trials and overwhelming tasks tempt us to worry, when our to do lists get long and sleep evades us, when our future or children’s futures are uncertain, let us look to the cross and believe.
Corrie ten Boom once wrote about a time when she was a little girl and asked her father how she would ever be able to handle suffering for Christ. His response was truly profound.
“When you go and I go to Amsterdam,” he said “When do I give you your ticket?”
“Why, just before we get on the train,” she replied.
“Exactly. And our wise Father in Heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes for you to suffer, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need – just in time.”
Don’t try to picture what it will look like to walk through future trials that do not yet exist, our fearful imaginings never seem to incorporate the amazing grace of God that will be there in the midst of those trials. When the enemy tries to tempt you to carry tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- remember the grace of God. Stand firmly upon the promise that no matter what happens, He will never leave you or forsake you. No matter what valley you may walk through in the future, His grace will be there every step of the way. Trust that as you give your full attention to the task in front of you, He will take care of your future.
Faith Over Fear
Our culture bombards us with the message that worrying is the equivalent to being wise. Not worrying over your finances or career, equals not making wise financial decisions according to society. Not worrying over you diet, equals not caring about your health. The world’s wisdom says, “It’s your responsibility to protect your own life and interests!” God’s wisdom says something else entirely. Yes, we should strive to make wise decisions regarding our health and finances for the glory of God. Yes, we should strive to protect our young children and avoid living in outright stupidity, but our security is not ultimately found in those things- it is found in simple, childlike faith in God. It is important to understand how easily worry can disguise itself as “wisdom”. Living in worry is not equivalent to living in wisdom. Rather, living in fear is living in direct disobedience to God. The Bible doesn’t just suggest that we don’t worry. Over and over again we are commanded not to worry:
“Therefore, do not worry.” -Matthew 6:30
Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life… Matt 6:32
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow – Matthew 6:34
Embracing worry is embracing disobedience to Christ’s commands. If we are held captive by this sin, we should repent and ask God to reshape our habits in this area. Let us, not only as women, but also as mothers- especially as mothers- embrace faith-filled living, offering up the lives of our children to God, entrusting them to His care. For an exemplary example of what this looks like practically, I encourage you to go read the article “Surrendering Your Children to God, The Life and Legacy of Katharine Howard” found in the archives of this blog.
She Rejoices in the Time to Come
The Bible tells us to be content in all our circumstances (Philippians 4:11). Why? Because the Lord handpicks our circumstances for us. He allows only those trials which will enable us to better turn our faces to Him. He allows the trials that will best prune away the unsightly growths on our hearts so that they better reflect His image. Proverbs 31:25 tells us that the godly woman will “rejoice in time to come” or as another version put it, “She looks at the future and laughs.” The godly woman looks ahead and knows that trials and snares will be in her path, yet she rejoices in the knowledge that the Lord will keep her steady regardless of what she may be called to endure. Let us be like this woman.
Wives and Mothers, you set the tone of your home- if you are anxious and worried, your husband and children will pick up on that. Purpose to not be a worrier. Purpose to rest in the sovereignty of God, come what may. The biggest impact you can have on your family is allowing yourself to live without fear, trusting in the sovereignty of the One who holds it all. He never makes mistakes. He is trustworthy.
“Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown? Jesus we know and He is on the throne.”