The following post is an excerpt from my book Expectant: Cultivating a Vision for Christ-Centered Pregnancy. For all you pregnant mamas, I pray this will be an encouragement from my heart to yours.
The temptation to take fear’s bait is ever present for an expectant mom.
Should I be having that pain?
I don’t feel as nauseated today—does that mean something?
When was the last time I felt him kick?
Do I have what it takes to care for more than one child?
What if something goes wrong during labor?
What if I go into labor right here, right now?!?
Something is stirred in a mother’s heart for the child she’s carrying: God-given love and a ferocious instinct to protect this child at any cost. So much is out of Mom’s control when a little one is developing inside her womb, and often all she can do is wait. And pray. And wait some more. In these times of waiting, thinking, and preparing, the temptation to fear can be around any turn. The enemy of our souls knows that a mother is so vulnerable and susceptible to fear if she’s not constantly on guard against it.
Generally speaking, God created women to be more expressive emotionally than men. This trait can add depth and richness to our lives and the lives of our families. However, problems arise when we have a difficult time keeping our emotions under control. This is especially hard when we’re undergoing hormonal changes, and it is all too easy, commonplace even, to excuse the occasional emotional outburst during pregnancy. But you will find no place in Scripture that excuses us to act upon any fleshly instinct we may have, no matter what the situation.
We are called to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him” (Colossians 1:10). Whenever we are tempted to be sullen, grumpy, frustrated, irritable, anxious, or given to self-pity, we need to stop and ask ourselves, Will acting this way be fully pleasing to the Lord? If the answer is no, then it’s something we can’t give in to. Of course, in and of our own strength, it’s impossible not to give in to wrong emotions at some level. Believe me, I know this from personal experience. We may be able to fight them for a while, but there will come a point when we’ll cave under pressure and act on them.
But this is where the beautiful, transforming power of the gospel comes in! Scripture says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3 ). In Christ, you and I do have everything we need to speak, act, and think in a way that brings glory to God. Our job is to believe that His grace is with us, even if our emotions are telling us something else. When we submit our emotional lives to the Holy Spirit’s control, He will give us everything we need to walk in a manner that glorifies Him.
I battled the stronghold of fear through much of my childhood. I began having panic attacks when I was seven years old, and I felt physically ill any time I even thought of anything bad that might happen to me or someone I loved. But shortly after I was married, the Lord really began to deal with this area of my life. And by His grace, I was able to surrender my fears to Him. This was a process of daily speaking truth to myself and choosing to walk in the promises in Scripture rather than giving in to feelings of fear as they came (2 Timothy 1:7).
I experienced so much freedom as a result, and I praise Him for that! What I didn’t realize, however, was that with children would come a whole new level of sanctification and transformation in this area. I had no idea just how strongly the battle would rage within my mind and heart between seemingly overwhelming fear and the rock-solid truth of God’s Word.
Most of us are familiar with these verses and others like them:
Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me (Psalm 23:4).
But do we actually take their “no fear” message to heart? How often do we practically apply these truths to our everyday lives? So often we treat these passages as lovely poetry or true in principle, but when it comes down to it, many of us don’t truly believe these promises apply in our situation. When fear comes knocking at your nursery door, do you immediately take the thought captive and make it obedient to the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:5)? Or do you surrender to the anxiety that so easily entangles as it wreaks havoc on your heart and mind (Proverbs 29:25; Hebrews 12:1)?
Looking back on my journey, I can identify several key moments when the choice lay before me: Was I going to trust my feelings or my God? Fear might have felt like the logical response to my circumstances, but I knew in the deepest part of my being that if I looked to the Lord, I would find the freedom from fear He promises. I also knew that if I did choose the path of fear, I was basically saying that I didn’t really believe what God says in His Word.
I can tell you from personal experience that if you choose to trust God, He will come through every time. But it’s not always easy. In fact, it sometimes feels as though you’re having to fight against everything your mind and body are telling you to do. At such times, reach out to the Lord. Cling to Him and ask for His help, for He is always faithful.
Expectant will be releasing May 4 2020, and is now available for pre-order on Kindle
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