Last Updated on March 20, 2018

My latest pregnancy brought with it a mind game I’d played before, one of my least favorites. In fact, I think most moms play it at some point: What if?

I would read fellow MomBlogger Jennifer’s posts and place myself in her shoes (to the extent that I am able). What if my child is diagnosed with autism? What was it like when Jennifer noticed her daughter’s lack of babbling, or big smiles? 

Rebecca Mutz’s grief over the loss of her daughter, Molly, took my thoughts to new heights. As mothers, our grief for Rebecca finds its depth in our love for our own children, in the miracle of their lives. What if something like that happenedor will happento me?

I remember Barbara Rainey saying once that having children is like having little pieces of your heart run around outside your body. How true. Choosing to have children — choosing to love anything — is to submit yourself to the possibility that the object of your love could be taken away or harmed. And it’s amazingly easy as a mom to live there, to live in fear.

But Rebecca and Barbara hit on some key answers to fear in their book about Molly’s brief life, A Symphony in the Dark: that God has great purposes for every life, no matter its length or tangible contributions. Made in His image, each human has tremendous value and is intricately woven into His plan.  (You can hear more about the mighty impact of Molly’s life on this week’s FamilyLife Today broadcast.)

My sister and I were pregnant at the same time. As a cardiovascular intensive care nurse at a children’s hospital, she has seen a wide array of children whose lives have departed from the sunny ideal of our image-driven culture which is often insulated from great suffering. Both she and I have encountered people who assured us in pregnancy, “Don’t worry; everything will be fine!” Sometimes they even added, “as long as it’s healthy!”

These questions have caused us to ask internally, But what if it isn’t?

Isn’t God still glorified when things aren’t “fine”? Take Jesus’ words to His disciples about the blind man: “it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3, emphasis added).

Mighty Molly’s life, and her family’s suffering, hinge on the hope of God’s sovereignty, His goodness, and the undying promise of the resurrection. Rather than a marker of fear and loss, Molly’s life gives her family a reminder of the imperishable — not unlike wearing a cross reminds us of suffering and death that brought forth life.

Andy Stanley has said,

Fear and faith live parallel lives. Uncertainty is an essential ingredient for both. Without the element of the unknown, there could be no faith … But it’s also in that moment that we are most vulnerable to fear.

God doesn’t promise my family protection from evil. In fact, Jesus said, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). God does promise that He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

This kind of hope allows me to open my clutching hands, surrendering my”what ifs” and the well-being of my children — His children! — to His all-seeing, all-powerful care, both in the womb and out.

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  1. Mary Larmoyeux says:

    Enjoyed this post, Janel, especially your reminder, “Isn’t God still glorified when things aren’t “fine”? — Mary

  2. Kristen S says:

    Thanks, Janel. I really needed to hear this one. My good friend's 5 year son was in a bad tractor vs. semi accident last week. He was at first thought to be dead, but God graciously performed an amazing miracle, and he's going to be fine. As I've journeyed through many emotions with my friend, my mind also went "there" to the what ifs. What if it was my family? My 5 year old? When I first became a mother, I was unprepared for the amount of time I would spend worring about my kids. Now when I'm laying awake at night, sick with the what-if-flu I ask myself, is this healthy, decision making concern? Or this unhealthy, unproductive, over the top worring? When it's the latter choice I remind myself that God is faithful and I pray that He will help me to trust Him more.