Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Safety

Safe in God’s Love
A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

I am a worrier. In fact, if there were an Olympic Games of Anxiety, I would medal in every event. It can seem helpful in some ways (I’m a great manager, seeing threats in advance and planning around them). But, the toll it takes on my peace of mind can be extreme.

When searching for a way to return to that peace, the usual Bible verses about fear often bring little comfort. In fact, sometimes they make me feel like a failure. Why do I find it so difficult to not worry?

Years ago my two-month old son, Ben, broke out in a fever. It’s not a good thing for a baby that young to have a fever. At the ER, the doctor we saw was nice, but serious, almost stern. Ben was fighting an infection and it was bad. They’d need to do a spinal tap because the kind of bad it looked like was meningitis. A positive test would mean an airlift to Boston.

They asked me to leave the room, the nurse assuring me that it would be easier on everyone involved if I waited in the lobby. I texted my husband at home with our two older children and spent the next 30 minutes in the lobby completely overcome. While on the surface I was sitting calmly, inside I was in a panic spiral.

Ben is our rainbow baby, a term used for the child carried to term following a pregnancy loss. Like a lot of women who give birth after a miscarriage, I developed postpartum anxiety. So sitting in the ER that night with my emotional reserves already depleted, I had little left to face the dread that consumed me. Heart and mind in tatters, I prayed.

My prayers were pretty incoherent, but God heard them anyway. I was allowed back into the exam room, and the moment the doctor walked in, I knew the test was negative. The grim determination in her expression was gone, she was even smiling! They’d be admitting my baby to watch overnight, but his vitals were strong, and his fever was responding to the meds.

It's absolutely no fun to lay on a cot next to your son’s crib and watch him try to sleep while being wired up to machines. But it sure beats being MedFlighted to an uncertain fate. The doctors never could figure out what it was, but it resolved on its own, and we were just glad he was okay.

Anxiety and I have a long history. The vague, ever-present sort; the unexplained “Am I crazy?” kind; the sharp and all-consuming variety; the existential kind; the kind that invades your dreams, and also the type that keeps you awake … I am well-acquainted with them all. The words of Scripture should be a comfort to me in times like these, but again, I find many verses on fear hard to internalize when my mind is ravaged by anxiety. God's Providence is genuine, but it’s hard to feel when a panic spiral of “what ifs” derail my thoughts and try to rob me of any peace.

Romans is my favorite book in the Bible, and these verses especially. Some believe that these verses are the pinnacle of the Bible’s message of the Good News. I can genuinely feel that truth when I am at my lowest, at the point when all my human resources are exhausted, and I am like David in the Bible book of Psalm, crying out to God for deliverance. Paul’s words remind me that, regardless of the outcome, God has me in His hands. There's true peace in that. Not the kind the world offers, which is paper-thin; it's God's peace. Whatever road I am walking, it's His road. No trial, however difficult or fear-inducing, can separate me from His love in Christ Jesus.

When we repent and place our faith in Jesus, we receive His Grace in salvation and are made new. Do we suddenly lose our anxiety, or depression? Rarely. We still need to persevere through them, but we're no longer a slave to them. We're not alone in them; He is now there with us.

We belong to God. We have been saved by Grace and are children of God. That doesn't spare us from the trials in this life, but it is where we can draw strength and where we can set our hearts when we're struggling.

Remember: The road we are walking ends in God's presence, and nothing on this earth can compare to that beautiful reality. Just like the song by Mack Brock says, "Your Presence is A Promise."

Author Bio:

Christa MacDonald is a 2017 Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction. 

She began her writing career at the age of eleven, filling a sketchbook with poems and short stories. After publishing a few short pieces in her college’s literary magazine she took a long hiatus during which she embarked on a few different careers, got married, had three kids, and renovated an old barn masquerading as a house. 

Her most recent work, The Redemption Road, finished the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty. She and her family live along the coast of New England.

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