It is so easy for a situation to get the best of us. Our calm can so swiftly be swept, leaving us in a panic and feeling vulnerable. I think back on my day yesterday and realized just how quickly my peace-of-mind was gone. I was first careful, then grew concerned and eventually worried.
Was there an eminent danger to my child or was I swept by anxiety, which then clouded my judgment? Anxiety tells us that everything is urgent and we must act immediately. For me yesterday, this translated to hurrying T to safety.
Do not hear me downplay how quickly a situation can turn to a health emergency for a child affected by sickle cell. I have experienced it and was dismayed by how fast we went from a normal day to requiring medical attention.
Sickle cell is real. Fear is real. Some days my challenge is to distinguish between caring for T and giving in to fear. As a mom, I want to protect my child and stay two steps ahead of a sickle crisis whenever I can. I want to know that I have done the best that I can do, and a crisis did not result from my lack of diligence. And I must admit it can be challenging to be both ‘not given to fear’ and diligent at once.
I went back to Philippians 4 to rehearse what the Word of God teaches me about peace. God does not promise me the absence of challenges and difficulty. What He does is assure me that I can have peace in Him and respond differently to the challenges that come my way.
Not because they are not real. But because God is real, true and faithful.
I took a quick look at what caused me to fret yesterday
- The unknown. I have read a laundry list of possible complications and this information, at the first sign of discomfort, signals to my brain that it can be anything from A-Z happening. This is akin to thinking you have a flesh-eating bacteria because you read on WebMD that one of the first symptoms is a cold.
- Past experiences. We had 3 hospital stays within a few months this year. Two of them because T had a sickle cell crisis and swelling of his foot. It was excruciatingly painful for him both times. I must say these experiences fuel my caution, and occasional paranoia.
- I’ll say it once more, I want to do everything in my power to know that I have done the best that I can if T has a crisis.
O how justified I feel in my fears when I think of them, but as I write them out, they are dismantled one after the other by the assurance I have in Jesus Christ, my Lord.
The God-trusting response to my fears
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13
There are so many unknowns. Not just with sickle cell, but with life. I do not know what will happen in the next minute, or hour. The possibilities are endless and they can put a fright in me, or I can trust God with them all. God knows the future. His knowledge is infinite, and He does not just know the future, He holds the future. I can be at peace because He has it all under control.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
This is the challenge of reconciling what I know to be true and what I have experienced. There is no doubt in my mind that the crises we experienced were allowed by God and served a purpose (other than to scare me that is). And while the health challenges themselves are not good, the purpose is good. God’s plan is good. God’s plan to refine, mold and purify us is good.
I find myself needing to remember that the Lord is creating something new out of our lives daily and I do not need to be bound to the emotions and pains of my past experiences, or by T’s past bouts of illness. God’s plan is good and for our good; and He is creating a new thing out of this old mess.
Doing my best
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
I cringed when I read down my third reason to fret. Take away a few words, and I am left with I.Want.Power. In my situation, I want power. Could it be? This is devastating and crushing because I have no power. It is humbling how our challenges (in my case, health-related) tend to point us to our finite power. Once I have done everything I can, I still have no power to do everything else that can make an impact.
There is strength however in my weakness. What T needs more of isn’t his mom’s, but His heavenly Father’s protection. What I need more of on my job as mom isn’t more ability to protect him, it is more reliance in the One who can protect him.
I am empowered by grace. I am reminded that my Father is all-powerful. My Savior said to boldly approach my heavenly Father in His Name (John 14:13). And I quickly forget this when I (Fleurztael) within my own body do not have the power or ability to change things. Thank God that in my weakness, He becomes my strength. I don’t need to fear because of my lack, I need to worship God with my lack, knowing that He is sufficient and pray fervently that He would increase my faith and change things on my behalf.
So today, I am choosing to walk in faith. I am choosing not to fear and not to worry. I will drive around with a diaper bag filled clothing, but my assurance is in the God of heaven, not T’s mittens.
May God give you peace and guard your heart in whatever situation you are facing. Be strong in Him.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9