As long-time readers of the blog know, I have a birthday tradition. Even during the seasons when I haven’t been a frequent blogger, I try to always take the time to write an annual birthday post. I do this because I think birthdays are a wonderful time to reflect on what God has taught you over the previous year and how He is working within your life to conform to the image of His Son. For this reason, and others, I love birthdays. One would think that this affection for this annual event would cause me to look forward to mine with much anticipation. However, for the first time in my life that I can remember, my birthday kind of snuck up on me. When a friend mentioned it yesterday, it took me awhile to figure out what she was talking about. Much has changed over the past year and the biggest change has been that I added the title of “mommy” to my resume. As such it is easy to get caught up in how my little one is growing and developing, and forget all about thinking on how I have. I suppose there is some good in this; if for no other reason (and there are lots of other reasons) motherhood is good because it teaches you humility. However, I still think it is good to recount what God is doing in my own life and therefore the birthday post tradition continues.
When I think back over the last year there is one lesson in particular that stands out amongst the many things God has done in my life. Namely, I have learned what it means to have faith in the midst of my fear. In the past, even if I never articulated it, I tended to act as if having faith meant that I ignored what I was afraid of. Instead of acknowledging that there were hard things in my life, I would simply try to turn my attention from them and focus on something good. While there may be times where there is wisdom in this approach, it doesn’t actually demonstrate a lot of trust in God to work within the situation that is scaring me. Instead it was an odd twist on the cliché that “ignorance is bliss.” While I certainly was not unaware of the struggles that I faced, I could at least pretend that they weren’t having a significant impact on my life. However, I’ve learned that trusting God means coming to Him with what is hard. It means putting the good things and the bad things at the foot of the Cross. Faith isn’t very strong if you only exercise it when things are going well. Relying on God means acknowledging what’s scaring you, stating why it’s painful, and trusting that in the midst of the challenge, He is doing something good. It doesn’t meant that the difficulty will go away – oftentimes it seems that He does more in our lives when the struggle remains. It does mean that the God is not unaware of or unconcerned with your hurt. He can meet you where you are – in the midst of the fear, just as much as when He has safely gotten you through it.
This can be a humbling lesson to learn. It can be especially poignant in those circumstances where we thought we were well-equipped to “handle them on our own.” It’s often in the situations where we think we should have things under control that God graciously reminds us of how futile it is to rely on our own strength. He has promsied to provide (Phl. 4:19); He asks us to trust that He will (see Prov. 3:5-6; Phil. 4:6). Having faith in the midst of our fear may not change the challenge that we face, but at least we are resting in the One who we know can handle it. And in doing so, He changes us.