This article was adapted from Trillia Newbell’s new book, Fear and Faith (Moody, 2015).
My husband’s job takes him away on trips that last a few days or even a week at a time. Each time he leaves, I battle the fear that he will never return. He boards a flight, and I imagine the plane bursting into flames. He rents a car, and I pray he doesn’t get into a car accident. The truth is, these things could happen (okay, the plane isn’t likely to burst into flames, but go with me). I know women who have lost husbands in car accidents; I know there are times when people walk out the door for something routine and never return; but I can’t live constantly worrying about a future that hasn’t happened.
I’m not sure if there is a greater fear for women than the fear of what’s to come (or what won’t come). You and I rightly pray for our husband, children, schools, and whether to pursue a career, but we don’t often come to God in peace. Instead we come anxiously awaiting our fate. Goodness will follow all the days of her life, or her life, or maybe her life, we might think, but surely not my life. It’s hard not to have control, and one thing that we can’t ever determine is what lies ahead. Thankfully, God’s Word is packed with sweet promises that smash all our fearful thinking.
Imagine that you are 90 years old. You are most likely frail with gray hair, potentially walking with a cane, though perhaps, these days, spending much of your time in a wheelchair because your once able and strong legs have ceased to perform. Now imagine someone comes to you and says, “Hey, Sarah, you know that child you’ve always wanted? Well, it’s time. You are finally going to bear a child.” You would look at that person in absolute disbelief. You might even laugh. All these years of waiting and longing and then, when every shred of hope is gone, a son is promised.
I am referring to the story of God’s promise of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah. In the pages of Genesis we read of how God promised Abraham a legacy of nations through the birth of one son (Gen. 17:16). Abraham and Sarah laughed in doubt as they heard God’s declaration (Gen. 17:17; 18:12). Sarah, I imagine, must have desired children prior to God’s promise. There are a host of fears associated with the chance that you might not become pregnant, and, I would guess by her doubtful laugh, she had given up at the age of 90 on the prospect of ever conceiving.
With a rhetorical question God challenged Sarah to trust him, after she had defiantly laughed in doubt that she would become pregnant: “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Gen. 18:14). God fulfilled his promise, and Sarah miraculously became pregnant. But once she did become pregnant, she had nine months of waiting to see how her frail, weak body would respond. Would she be able to carry the baby to term? By means of a miscarriage would God teach her a lesson about trusting him? I don’t know about you, but those are some of the thoughts I might battle after becoming pregnant at 90. I would struggle with fear of the unknown. I would want to be in complete control of the situation. Perhaps I would struggle because I’ve had some of these fears come to fruition. I have experienced four miscarriages and have had to fight the fear of losing a child through each pregnancy.
You might be thinking, Yes, but everything turned out exactly the way these biblical characters hoped. Yes and no. Sarah would have loved to have had a child at a younger age (I assume). She died at 127 years old, leaving Abraham a mourning widower, never getting to see her son Isaac marry (Gen. 23:1; 24). And as we know, life continued to be difficult for her descendants. Did it turn out the way the Lord planned? Absolutely! And does God redeem it in the end? Yes. But you can’t see the future in your own life like you get to in God’s Word. We don’t get the whole picture, do we? So we have to trust the Lord because only he knows. But there is one thing guaranteed, which is awaiting you all the days of your life: God’s faithfulness.
Those words—God has been faithful and will be again—appear in the lyrics of “He’s Always Been Faithful” by Sara Groves. In the song she recounts God’s faithfulness through each morning and each season. She recounts, “Season by season, I watch him amazed; in awe of the mysteries of his perfect ways.” Every page in God’s Word shouts of God’s faithfulness. Each story leads to Jesus and to the redemption of the world. And if we look, we can see God’s faithfulness to us now.
Fear Removed by Faithfulness
In Deuteronomy 32:4, Moses speaks of God as the “Rock” whose works are “perfect” and ways are “justice.” He is “a God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” And we read of Paul’s confidence in the faithfulness of God: “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:24). And elsewhere Paul writes that God will finish the good work he began in us (Phil. 1:6). Psalm 89, though a lament, still sings of God’s faithfulness: “I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. . . . O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?” (vv. 1, 8).
You and I have to fight to remember the faithfulness of our Father when we are faced with great fears of the future. Ask yourself, How has God been faithful? This year you can count on the Lord to be faithful again. This doesn’t mean that everything will turn out exactly as you desire. This doesn’t mean each prayer will be answered as you wish. But it does mean that in God’s goodness and sovereignty, he will work all things together as he sees them to be good for you (Rom. 8:28). We may not see the evidence of God’s faithful hand until the end of our days, but we know it will be there.