Have you ever encountered a situation where you doubt whether you are strong enough to endure what is before you? Or maybe you’ve endured for a long, long time and feel the bleak possibility that things may not get any better and giving up is starting to look like a better option (if that’s even possible in your situation?)
I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy with our son, who is due any day now. I’ve had two children and lost three. I’ve delivered all of them and this isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to childbirth. But for some reason, the lapse in time from the last baby to this baby has created a space of fear in me. I fear I’m not strong enough. I fear that the pain of delivery will be more than I can handle. I fear that I’m not prepared enough, haven’t been diligent enough in taking care of myself and that having this baby will completely wreck me, simply because it’s been four years (and three years before that) since I’ve held my newborn child in my hands and survived the hardest three to six months of my life as a new mom. I fear that having a four- and nearly seven-year-old has made me forget all about the baby stage, so much so that I might regret having another child.
I think it’s understandable to feel afraid especially when a massive, irreversible change is pending in life. I’ve used a lot of my time during this pregnancy to take care of everything except myself. I’ve tried to tie up loose ends in so many aspects of my life that I know will be harder or impossible to do with a newborn. I’ve never felt more relieved that growing a baby takes almost a year since that’s about the time I’ve needed just to adjust to the idea of a baby in our pre-K and school-aged-kid home. How will I homeschool and not drop the ball with my first two? How will I meet the demands of their schedules, my husband’s schedule, and my job as a wife & homemaker in addition to not neglecting our community? And when on earth will I find the time to do things I love doing like writing?
I started thinking that I’ve forgotten something. Like I used to do something that would have helped me through this hard transition that I’m in but have since stopped doing. I did a lot of searching for resources to help me with breathing during delivery or meditations to reflect on and after coming up with next to nothing, I realized that I had forgotten something: I realized I hadn’t been trusting God.
It’s hard to admit that I haven’t been trusting God. This year I’ve been diligent to keep up my commitment to regular prayer and reading my Bible each day. I’ve made more of an effort in my spiritual practice than ever before which has been particularly helpful since a pregnancy after two back-to-back miscarriages is not an easy feat. If it weren’t for my faith, I don’t know how I would have ever had the courage to try again. And yet, I spent the entire first half of this pregnancy waiting for something potentially bad to happen. I was preparing myself for what we would do if we lost him. Then for several weeks after our 20-week ultrasound, I would research online the viability of my baby each week, knowing that a long NICU stay where I couldn’t be with my baby every second of every day would be the only thing to come close to the pain of losing another child. In my head, I trusted God. But in reality… I just didn’t want to feel blindsided again. I wanted some sense of control over every uncontrollable outcome. But every rabbit trail down every what-if situation ended with me admitting I was not in control. This child’s life is ultimately in the Lord’s hands, and I submit to Him. He is good all the time, even when I might not like the outcome.
So why is it now that we are at the end of this marathon, the end of the fearful struggle, the glorious moment before I hold my squirmy, screaming child in my arms that I feel so fearful that I lack the strength to keep going?
I recently read through Isaiah chapter 40 and as I read it the last verse proclaimed:
“…but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
The author writes about two things that stuck with me, the first of those is strength. I read for a while after this chapter and the word strength kept coming back to me over and over. We do not currently possess all the strength we will ever need. We simply don’t have the strength in our own selves to endure a whole life on earth. We need God to give us that strength if we are to endure as He wills us to. Like eating or drinking water for physical survival, our spiritual sustenance is wholly dependent on our reliance on Him for strength. And praise God, He is faithful to empower us with strength as only He can when we faithfully rely on Him for it! (Philippians 4:13)
Wings of Eagles
The second thing about the end of Isaiah chapter 40 that stuck with me were the words “wings like eagles.” Every time I’ve read that line or sang about soaring like eagles in a worship song I brush it off as a nice, flowery idea of the freedom believers experience in their relationship with God. It never meant much to me until the last time I read it and realized that on the “path” in my mind that I’m on, I’m at ground level struggling to keep my footing. I’m terrified I might make a mistake and lose the grip I have on this insurmountable obstacle. But unlike my perception of a perilous path of tragedy potentially lurking behind every milestone, the eagles can soar far above the problems of the ground and aren’t discouraged by how rocky terrain is, how deep and cavernous a valley can be or how parched an area of land is. Eagles don’t have to grapple with the physical hinderances of those struggling on the ground. They have the undisturbed atmosphere to glide through and can alter course as needed without struggling. Instantly I saw how valuable those wings could be!
Am I in the Way?
If I’d prayed for unshakable faith through these weekly trials (as I should have), it would be the spiritual equivalent of wings like eagles to soar above the treadmill of never-ending obstacles. Instead, I’ve been relying on my weak, tired, doubt-filled hands and feet to get me through this all on my own. No wonder I’m grappling with fear at the eleventh hour, I realized that I regularly feel like I’m about to fall off a cliff! Not only have I been underestimating God and his willingness to give me much more than I could ever ask for, I’d been expecting Him to let me down. I’d been expecting to be shattered again by loss, or a situation I know could break me or just things to get worse in some way.
What if it’s God’s will for things to get much, much better, and I’m standing in the way of that?
As I enter these last few days (or weeks) of my pregnancy I am praying for the strength to trust God and faithfully rely on Him to supply my every need. I’m praying He grants me a good labor, wonderful newborn phase and an attitude of joy as I endeavor life as a mom to three little ones. I’m praying that the Lord helps me to remember that I can soar instead of struggle. Every moment is a choice to “wait for the Lord,” as Isaiah wrote, and even as I’m waiting for this little boy to join our family I’m now starting to see what a blessing these trials have been as I lean on the Lord more than ever before.
Cover Photo by Daria Shevtsova