Today we’re in chapter one of What Women Fear by Angie Smith. I appreciated in this chapter how she tied three threads together:
- The thread of fear as it’s played out in the question of what-if and
- How that relates to control, and then the final thread
- That fear can be both past and future oriented
We can relate to the what-if so much, can’t we?
What if something happens to my child and the medical system isn’t adequate?
What if all the pressures of this life overseas, this life of service put too much strain on my marriage?
What if I end up never getting married?
What if support doesn’t come in? What if, what if, what if?
We’re encouraged by stories of how God has come through, of how tuition was met for schools, of how just-the-right doctor in just-the-right place came about. I love it. I love how God can miraculously work. But this is what makes it complex, right?
Fear is tempting to believe because we also know the stories of when, for whatever reason and often we don’t know the reasons, it appears that God did not show up. It appears that the what-if was a very reasonable fear.
Last year around this time my friend Katherine was pregnant with their second child and found out something was wrong. She and her husband Jeff were given a terminal diagnosis. She has blogged beautifully through the journey. Even in the midst of finding out, she helped format and make the retreat participant guide for the Velvet Ashes retreat beautiful. They had months to live out the what-ifs: it was March and their daughter was due in August. Katherine still chose to serve us—you— and she is helping with the retreat guides again this year.
Anyway, as the spring and summer went on and the what-if didn’t become easier as they kept getting up and down news. Then, in August their daughter was born and she took that first breath and let out a cry. It was such a moving experience in that delivery room because everyone had created space for a miracle and space for a tragedy.
It’s poignant to mention a labor and delivery room because actually, we’re all in labor and delivery rooms with our what-if fears and laying them before God. In that literal labor and delivery room, Katherine and Jeff’s daughter was born and screamed loud for all to hear. She has some health realities, but so much phenomenal good news (here’s the latest); and yet it’s also then been such a point of tension. Katherine will drive by the cemetery where they wondered if they were going to be burying their daughter and she has seen other people there burying family members and knows that could have been her. But it wasn’t. She’s living with a miracle. (I may be biased, but go and look at her picture. Bella is adorable!)
I love how Angie said that this what-if fear is the fear that touches on our desire for control. For Angie, her what-if was deeply rooted in her desire to protect those around her. We can relate to that, can’t we? Whether it’s our local friends, whether it’s our family members back home, whether it’s our children with us, or our teammates. There are just so many people that we want to protect with our what-if’s.
Angie described it this way, “The responsibility I put on myself to keep those around me safe was already at a fevered pitch before I could read, and it wasn’t going to change anytime soon.” Later, on the next page, Angie talks about that it’s easy to fear we have ruined something beautiful. As you look at your life, what are some of the what-if’s you’re wondering right now if you’ve ruined something beautiful? It could be with local believers, or a relationship, something with your children, or a friendship where there’s been a misunderstanding. What are some of the beautiful things that you wonder if you have ruined?
A couple of pages later I also loved where she talked about the passage with Hagar. How the angel met her and that’s what I love. It’s not about us pulling ourselves up from our boot straps and not having these fears and saying, “Your what-if’s are ridiculous and just lay it at the cross.” It is about laying it at the foot of the cross, but it’s also about trusting that the very God who made the universe and made you will meet you in this fear.
He will send someone, some form of an angel whether that be an actual angel, a teammate speaking into your life, a sermon that you hear, or something you read. But that God is going to meet you in this. As Angie said, Hagar’s situations didn’t change but her awareness did. I think as I read through this chapter that’s my hope. My hope isn’t in my circumstances changing or your circumstances changing but our big capital H, hope. Little h, hope of course can be a part of it. We can hope that things change. Our big deep hope isn’t in our circumstances changing, but in God changing us, changing our awareness, helping us to see that we don’t have to be in control, he is, that he can handle some of our big what-if fears.
We will end today’s chapter with the prayer that she ended it with: Lord I believe you are the well-maker but I also believe you’re the eye-opener. That’s my prayer for us, that God would have used this chapter to open our eyes to him.
What stood out to you in this chapter and where maybe has God been opening your eyes to the what if fears in your life?
See you in the comments.
P.S. Next week we’ll discuss chapter 2.
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