Godliness, and living a godly life, is the central theme of 1 Timothy, chapter 4: “Train yourself to be godly.” (v. 7) “Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things…” (v. 8) But what does a godly life look like? I’ll tell you first what...
I folded the last onesie and placed it in the drawer of our new nursery bureau. For most pregnant women, preparing their nursery for the arrival of their precious baby marks an exciting time. Happy thoughts of rocking their baby to sleep fill their minds, along with sounds of their baby’s sweet coos as they snuggle in the crib.
But my first thought was not so sweet. Instead, it was bitter: What if my unborn baby dies?
Excitement and Anxiety
Anxiety has carved a long scar that touches every area of my life, pregnancy and motherhood included. When I took my first test and the little words on the screen read, “Pregnant, 1-2 weeks,” I was met with both the excitement of pregnancy and the fear of miscarriage. I was actually relieved when morning sickness and food aversions settled in because that meant everything was hopefully in order.
During my first trimester, I clung to the hope of reaching my second trimester. Whenever my fears of miscarriage would overwhelm me, I would remind myself, Once you reach the second trimester, you can rest in knowing your chances of miscarrying are lowered significantly.
But that first trimester passed, and my fears refused to fade.
Facing My Fears
Although my chances of miscarriage were now lower, the possibility still existed. Such is the morbid and hopeless thought-life of the anxious: If there’s a possibly for failure or tragedy, despite how low the possibility, we’re still “required” to worry.
My new motto became, Once the baby is born and out of my fragile womb, I’ll be able to protect him or her. Though still a long six months away, it was the only hope I thought I had left. Once the baby was out, he or she was then in my control, and I could monitor and care for him or her.
This thought comforted me for a while, but it wasn’t long before that reassurance was ripped from my grip as well. I soon worried about the many situations where my child’s safety would be threatened outside my womb. My arms can’t shield my child from disease. My weak body will need sleep, meaning I must leave my child alone in their crib, unguarded. Someday, my child will grow up and leave the house, where my eyes can no longer see them 24/7.
Through tears, prayer, and the study of God’s Word, I am slowly being humbled and taught by him to release my grip on my child and trust him.
Trusting God’s Sovereignty
For those of us who are worriers and struggle against anxiety, God’s sovereignty can be both a comfort and a terror. It’s a comfort to know God is in control of all things as Ruler and King, that nothing happens without his go-ahead. With Job we can declare, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
This is an encouraging reminder that whatever happens to us was not unforeseen by God, and nothing can happen outside of his control.
[Tweet “Our battle cry in the fight against worry and fear is: My God is both sovereign and good.”]
But God’s sovereignty can also be terrifying. When we realize God is completely sovereign over all things, we also realize he can do whatever he pleases. “Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Psalm 135:6; cf. Psalm 115:3; Isaiah 43:13). As our sovereign King, no one tells him what to do, and whatever he decides, happens.
None can overthrow his plan.
This is terrifying when we consider stories like Job’s, who not only lost all his material goods, but also all his children. God not only knew, but allowed this to happen by giving Satan permission to act. The terrifying truth about God’s sovereignty is that he allows bad things to happen to his people. Children die. Spouses get sick. Friends backstab. We are falsely accused and punished.
Just because we are believers doesn’t mean we are suddenly protected from all evil. Rather, Jesus says we will experience trouble (John 16:33).
Trusting God’s Goodness
This would be terrifying if God was an uncaring and ruthless King. But we know that our God is not that at all.
Our God is both completely sovereign and completely good (1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 100:5; 119:68; 145:9). Our God is compassionate, loving, gracious, patient, and cares for each one of his created beings. He cares so much that God the Son came to earth in a woman’s fragile womb, was born, and lived a spotless life to be brutally killed as our perfect sacrifice.
Though God is sovereign and does whatever he wishes, because he is our good and loving God, he does everything for both his glory and the good of his children. Romans 8:28-30 seamlessly brings together these two attributes:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What is our good as believers? To be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. And what is our end? To be glorified, that is, to finally be made righteous and live in heaven forever with God. That is why God’s sovereignty is a comfort to us, because we know he is eternally good and has a good purpose in everything he does and allows.
I have learned that it is not enough though to simply know this in my head. This knowledge must also reach my heart and change my attitude.
Putting Off the Idol of Self
This must be our anthem when worry strikes, our battle cry in the fight against worry and fear: My God is both sovereign and good.
In our fight to believe this truth, we struggle to put off our desire to worship ourselves. Within each of us remains that same sinful desire Eve had when she bit into the forbidden fruit—I could be like God.
For those of us who struggle with anxiety, our desire is often to be sovereign like God. We want the ability to control our children, futures, bank accounts, friends, and spouses. That’s what I wanted with my child; I wanted to protect my baby from any possible pain, harm, even death. What mother doesn’t?
But here’s the reality we need to face to put to death this idol of self: Even if we could somehow be sovereign, we’d never do it well. Our picture-perfect world is far from true perfection, nor do we have the infinite wisdom to conceive a better future. Not only that, our desires are spiked with sin and evil, so that whatever future we try to create will always be filled with sin.
[Tweet “God not only knows the best outcome for us, he has the power to execute it.”]
But you know who doesn’t have either of those problems? Our sovereign and good God. He is perfect in all his ways, including his wisdom. He not only knows the best outcome for us, he has the power to execute it. His perfect decisions are not swayed by uncontrollable emotions or persuasive people. He has the perfect love, goodness, and grace to give us exactly what we need, even when we can’t see it for ourselves.
To put off the idol of self, we look in the mirror and see how insufficient and incapable we are of being sovereign. We recognize our weaknesses and sin. Then, in the midst of that painful conclusion, we bow in joyful submission to the One who is perfect, sovereign, wise, and good, and believe that he really does know what’s best and will execute it.
Trusting God with Your Child
I still worry and fret some days when I am reminded of all that will threaten my child’s safety. But I’m learning to trust God with my unborn baby, and not to put my hope not in the passing of time, in age, or in my own abilities.
In the midst of my fears God is teaching me to turn to him in prayer and bow my heart in submission to him, rather than to myself. This doesn’t always come easily; some days it comes through tears and minute-by-minute obedience. But in the midst of it all, God is revealing to me that he alone can truly care for my precious baby.
He is the best caretaker my baby—and I—will ever have.