It isn’t easy negotiating an unknown and potentially serious medical condition especially when you are the mom of young children. A friend of mine is facing that challenge. It’s been going on awhile and still the doctors still aren’t sure exactly what she’s facing. She wrote me this week about being overwhelmed with the fears of what it could be and the weariness of dealing with the symptoms and tests. My heart hurts to her and many others I know facing similar circumstances. As I prayed for her my mind was drawn back to an email I’d just read from Patricia in Wisconsin. In fact, it had come in two minutes before the one I received from this young mom.
It told an amazing story that I thought would encourage this mom and perhaps give her some insight as to how to deal with the latest round of tests. Here’s what Patricia wrote:
I hit a bit of a wall a few weeks back waking up feeling as if there was a black cloud hovering over me. I asked Jesus, “What is it that I’m not getting about your love for me? ” I asked him to show me. I was pretty discouraged, Wayne, not understanding why. I headed out the door to water the flowers. Being with flowers always seems uplifting. Stretched across the walk was a big snake. Although I assumed it was non-poisonous, my reaction could be described much like when you slam on your brakes when someone suddenly cuts you off in traffic. Frightened, I stomped my foot and the snake quickly slithered into a space between the walk and the front porch. Great, I thought, now it’s in the basement! I had a vision of it hanging from a pipe the next time I needed to make a trip downstairs.
Just then Jesus seemed to speak to my heart. “You become afraid, stomp your feet driving your fear deeper inside.” The next morning I went out to water the flowers and once again there was the snake stretched out across the walk. This time I turned my empty bucket upside down several feet away from it and sat down. I had an interesting conversation with Jesus about my fear. The next morning the snake was there and the day following that. I began to say good morning to the snake. Although I didn’t feel the need to drape that baby over my shoulders I appreciated it’s presence. I began to view the snake differently.
By the end of the week he was gone. So was the discouragement. I was left with a deeper, more authentic relationship with Him.
Our fears only grow greater in the darkness and our view of God much smaller. I love this story of the snake and the fact that Patricia would sit down near it and have a conversation with God about her fears. I love how that engagement changed her view of the snake and her connection with the Father who loves her so much. When people encounter difficult circumstances, some try to ignore them, others dwell on them with fear and panic. What would happen if we sat down with God in the face of our fears and talked it out with him? I’ve often heard preachers or worship leaders telling us to lay down our fears when we come to him. In their minds admitting to fear is proof we have no faith. But that is only denial. It takes far more trust to bring our fears along as we sit or walk with him.
So I sent this story to the young mom facing the scary medical diagnosis, with this encouragement: “You and God can find some deep, deep fellowship staring down your fear and finding out that your whole life is in Father’s hands. It has always been. So is everyone else’s. And those are pretty good hands to have it in, regardless of the outcome.”
She wrote back saying my email had begun to draw her into different space. “Your last email made the tears fall… I talked to God… felt like I was flinging myself into his lap like my kids do when they are hurt and scared. I want those deep conversations. I’m tired.”
Awesome. What other option to any of us have? We can’t change our circumstances. We can’t win over our fears. We can only sit down in the midst of them and let Father do what Father does best—draw us into freer space. Fear only makes God seem more distant. He is not. It’s not in his nature. If we take the time to sit with him and let him sort out it out. He knows how to handle it all and make himself known to us. As he settle us in his love our fears lose their power as we know we are not alone and that the one who is in us is greater than any circumstance confronting us.
What else are we going to do, throw a tantrum and drive our fears under the porch where they only becomes even scarier?