I’ve always struggled with anxiety over imagined future scenarios. I have worked myself up over more hypothetical situations than I care to admit. My mom has been the natural dumping ground for my overflowing angst. Her wisdom to me has been, “God doesn’t give you hypothetical grace, only real grace when you actually need it” — God gives us enough grace to deal with the events of that day, not for all the fake futures I can conjure up during a day. By wasting time and energy on “vain imaginings,” I was also stealing from the grace God had perfectly apportioned for that day. She insisted, time after time (and she speaks from experience), that if I were to face any of my fears in reality, that God would give me the grace to deal with them when I needed it.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
I’m grateful to report that my mom was right: even in the midst of our current season, God’s peace has comforted and protected us. In fact, in imagining that I would one day face this scenario (what scenario did I not imagine?), I felt far more anxiety than I’m feeling in actually facing it. And my most difficult moments lately have been when I have spent too much time on the Internet, imagining every possible outcome for my daughter (go figure – Mom wins again).
Now I’m not naïve; peace is not a numbing agent. I have cried more in the last week than in the whole past year, and, in front of doctors I’ve just met, I have very awkwardly burst into tears. There has been real pain involved with knowing that my baby girl is not physically whole. And there have been times in the past (most recently dealing with infertility before my son was born) that I really thought I would drown, and in those moments I didn’t believe my heart and mind were being guarded by anything, let alone peace. But I survived, with my faith and love for God and for my family firmly in tact, so I was being guarded by sentinels of peace.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:7 (NIV)
Some people confuse peace with a lack of emotion. People who go through crises with dry eyes and not a trace of sackcloth or ashes have learned to fake peace. Other Christians can sometimes encourage this “brave trusting” in God’s goodness, mainly because they like to think that if sorrows come, God will buoy them above it all in some unreachable hovercraft where they won’t get splashed with murky seawater or entangled in seaweed. But speaking as someone who’s currently in the middle of the waves, I can tell you that it’s cold and wet and dark and scary out here. But I am not alone. God’s presence is with me and my family, and his comfort is real.
While I had imagined being in situations similar to the one I’m in now, what I could not have imagined was the grace that is being apportioned to us. His grace is sufficient, and I am so glad to belong to him!
“He is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge.” Psalm 144:2 (ESV)