Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 NLT
In the early 1990s, I got pregnant while my husband and I prepared to serve as teachers in a university in China. Although this put a new spin on our one-year contract, we proceeded with the preparations and flew thousands of miles from home.
I recall writing in my journal –
I know the Lord is leading us to teach in China, he’s confirmed the decision every step of the way, but I’m afraid of having to give birth so far from family. I identify, if only a little bit, with Mary having to travel to Bethlehem in her ninth month. And like Mary, I will trust you Lord…and if you don’t change our plans, I will take it as a GO.
But my fear prayed, please God change our plans. He didn’t.
Fear often accompanies unknown future events. We were prepared to face an unfamiliar culture, living situation, diet, and language. But the pregnancy added concerns about the Chinese medical system, hospital, labor and delivery – AND A BABY! We walked in a faith deepened by our new dependency on Christ.
The year in China was full of unexpected trials and joys. We felt the embrace of God in the friendships and support he provided. We had limited access to food choices and common American conveniences, but God richly blessed us with everything we truly needed. The day I went into labor, my mother-in-law, our translator, the driver, my husband, and I climbed into the car, and waved to the crowd of friends and colleagues wishing us well. Twelve hours later, my daughter was born healthy and beautiful.
As I look back now, I’m so grateful God led us overseas expecting a baby. My pregnancy was a community concern; my expanding belly and health were discussed in and out of classrooms; our newborn daughter was the apple of everyone’s eye. Her little presence provided opportunities to discuss matters of faith in Christ, and God’s providence.
Fear can immobilize us and terrorize us. But faith reminds us true power and sovereignty belong to God. Faith overcomes fear, just as the resurrected Jesus overcame death. The Bible is full of testimonies of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.
When we are afraid, we walk – however unsteadily – in faith trusting the unfailing love and goodness of God. The lingering fear will dissipate, and God’s faithfulness will cause our hearts to rejoice!
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:5-6 NIV