On a cold winter night, my husband and I drove hand-in-hand to the emergency room. Our third son, still a newborn, had spit-up a small amount of blood onto the kitchen floor. We were naturally concerned, and on the stern advice of a local nurse hotline, we loaded up for the hospital. I can vividly remember the drive, mostly quiet, as the possibilities fogged my mind. What we would hear after the doctors evaluated him? Would he have a serious health condition? Or worse? Would there be some logical explanation of no concern, or would our deepest fears be confirmed? I truly had no idea.
My husband squeezed my hand and suggested we should pray. God’s peace filled our van. As our prayers went on, we found ourselves speaking truths with boldness that only the Holy Spirit could produce. “No matter what happens, God, we believe you are good. We believe you have good plans for our lives. We believe you have good plans for our son and for your glory.” I remembered that God completely understood what it felt like to watch a child suffer, and comfort poured over me. I remembered that the just judge, the God who overcame the grave, was in charge of our son’s life. And I was no longer afraid.
Thankfully, at the hospital we received good news, hearing a very explainable and non-concerning reason for the blood. We were discharged less than a couple hours after our arrival, never needing to take him back to the doctor for a similar issue again. While that incident turned out fine, a small blip in our child’s story of health, it became a big moment for me as a mother who sometimes struggles with feelings of anxiety.
What stands out to me most was this: in a moment of potential crisis, instead of trying to avoid my fears, I fully acknowledged them, bringing them where the light could shine. Instead of willing my heart to focus on the positive, I spoke my worst-case scenario concerns out loud to God where they could be dealt with by the highest authority.
Although I try not to regularly dwell on or play out awful situations in my head, I’ve also experienced freedom as I’ve confronted my worst-case scenario fears with gospel truth. The more I face the things I think my heart couldn’t survive, the more I hope in the promises of Christ. Even if I lose that child, experience that persecution, face that daunting challenge, or lay down that tightly held dream, there are things that can never be taken from me.
No matter what happens, I will remain in Christ.
Although I have deep concern for the hearts and lives of those around me, ultimately, there is comfort in knowing that external circumstances won’t impact the security of my own salvation. When I don’t have to defend my own stance before God, I can focus on pouring out love to others, remaining calm in difficult storms. I don’t have to fear those who can kill the body (or the dream or the bank account), because the one who controls both the soul and the body says my destiny is secure. I can go forward without looking back over my shoulder for the law to condemn me. No poor response, helpful word, moment of worry, or worst-case scenario can separate me from the love of the father.
No matter what happens, I will receive grace to persevere.
A few minor concerns are enough to show me that my anxiety-prone flesh is weak. With the spike of a child’s fever, my heart can be thrown into a tizzy. But the spirit in me is willing and able to offer grace, causing me to have a supernatural response of peace when the world tells me to freak out. This was the grace given when my husband and I drove to the hospital with our infant son. I can’t project what challenges God will allow in our lives, but I can rest in the truth that the Holy Spirit will give me the grace I need to remain focused on Christ in the trials. When I need the words, they will come. When I need comfort, I can call on the God of comfort. I will finish the race, because my ever-present helper will pull me safely through the obstacles.
No matter what happens, it will be for my good.
From our earthly perspective, worst-case scenarios get their label for a reason – they seem awful. Death, disease, empty bank accounts, public shame, persecution, or loss of relationships threaten our joy and plans for a “good” life. But God’s definition of good is much different. Our Lord put Mary’s worst-case scenario for motherhood at the center of history. Her worst was God’s best. Paul acknowledged this truth in his letter to the Philippians, noting that even his imprisonment was an opportunity for the spread of the gospel. His suffering provided a chance to display contentment; trusting God’s plans even when it defied earthly comfort.
No matter what happens, my future hope is unchanging.
Something amazing happens when Peter writes a letter to the Christians in the dispersion; he tells them to praise God in the midst of their worst-case scenario. And it’s not because things are going to eventually be wonderful for them on Earth, but because things are ultimately going to be wonderful for them in eternity. They have an inheritance that isn’t impacted by present tribulations. In Christ, we share in this same hope and unfading reward. It doesn’t matter how bad things get on Earth, because our present sufferings can’t be compared to the glory that is coming.
Of course, I hope that I never experience another drive to the emergency room with a child in the backseat, although with four young boys, this is highly unlikely. But I’m confident that I serve a God who will see me through any worst-case scenario that my fragile heart can imagine. In Christ, my imagination can walk down that road and always find good and glory at the end, no matter what happens in this present life.