I’m not generally an anxious person. I don’t find myself dwelling on things for too long, I like being busy and working to deadlines. But one of my continual life lessons being on this journey with Hannah has been learning to trust God more when I do feel anxious about her surgery and what might happen in the future.
It’s humbling. Learning I’m not in control, I can’t fix Hannah myself, I can’t stop her pain and discomfort, and I can’t even decide when her surgery happens! There’s nothing like handing your child over for a risky, complex operation to make you feel helpless.
The feeling of not being in control has been made so aware to me in recent weeks as we worked towards a date for her surgery, only to have it delayed a couple of days out. Now we could be in hospital for Christmas, or it could be delayed again. For Hannah’s last surgery we were delayed 5 times for a total of 5 weeks so this is a very real possibility. Along with the emotional adrenalin let down, being in church ministry the next couple of months are our busiest with lots of fun things on for Christmas and our youth camp in January.
So why doesn’t God do things when I think is best? Surely it’s the right thing for surgery to go ahead as soon as possible! Surely my plans as Hannah’s mum are the best, right?
I listened to a podcast recently where another mum spoke about feeling this way too, and even more so. She’s had three children, but sadly two died as babies from a genetic disorder. The interviewer asked her how she was about to trust God in the midst of such uncertainty and pain…
“Trust doesn’t look like you never have anxiety about it. Trusting God is every time that anxiety rises up in you, you go to God with it. That really helped me because I think it’s unrealistic for us as mums to think we’re just going to live a totally worry-free, anxiety-free life, in regard to our children, so the real issue of trusting God is not that we never feel anxiety, it’s what we do with it. Do we simmer in it?
Do we strategize to somehow fix it ourselves or do we come to God with it and say, “You must act. I’m fully depending on you to act on my child’s life, as well as to give me the peace I need to get through this day. Lord, you can probably expect that I’m going to be back here tomorrow. I’m just going to keep coming back to you to give me what I need and to work in my child’s life.”
Her answer brought me to tears. I definitely feel the temptation to trust in my own planning or skills, as if organising multiple activities to keep Hannah occupied in hospital and turning up early to all her appointments and reading everything I can about her condition and the surgery will make everything go to plan.
Sure those things might help, but there’s no certainty they will. Life doesn’t work the way we want it to just because that’s what we want.
But what I can have certainty in is God. I can have certainty that putting my trust in God and knowing he is powerful and able to act in the best way possible for me, and for Hannah’s life, is what will sustain us long term. Things might not pan out the way I’d like them to, but I can trust that God knows better than I do about these things. He has the bigger perspective in mind, and there are multiple things he might be teaching us through this experience. Teaching us to recognise our own mortality. Teaching us to value what’s important in life. Teaching us to look to him when things are uncertain. Teaching us to be able to love others better when they go through tough circumstances. And teaching us to look forward to heaven, which we can have certainty in not because of ourselves but because of Christ’s death on the cross.
I’ve been reminded of this recently from God’s word too, in our series on Isaiah at church. Isaiah is a book in the Old Testament where Judah had been conquered and taken off to exile in Babylon, with no idea what the future held. Isaiah told them that one day, a Messiah would come, who we know was talking about Jesus:
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Jesus willingly suffered pain and death in my place, to bring me back into relationship with God. I don’t have a God who is distant or unknowable, he knows my experience intimately. That brings me peace and comfort no matter the circumstances I face.
Learning to trust God more isn’t an easy process. I don’t think I have some special strength or ability to do it better than others. It’s a daily thing I need to remind myself to do – to take things to God in prayer, to remember what he has revealed to us in his word, and be encouraged by the support of others. And I’m sure it’s something I’ll have to keep learning to do until I get to meet Jesus face to face!
Please pray for…
- Hannah’s surgery to go ahead in good time, before her oxygen levels drop to a critical level.
- For peace in trusting God daily with my own life and that of my children.
- Those other families currently in hospital, to have strength and perseverance in suffering and uncertainty.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10