On the morning of August 31, 2017, I received an unexpected package delivered to my front door. It was a belated birthday gift from my brother and sister-in-law–a small wall hanging with two words beautifully illustrated in lowercase script: "be still."
The timing of this gift was not lost on me. Later that afternoon I was scheduled for a routine 20-week ultrasound for our second baby. All morning, anxiety had been whispering fearful thoughts, and I knew immediately that God sent those words to calm my spirit.
I dug through the box and found another calming word from the Lord: a postcard on which was written, "She holds on to hope for God is forever faithful."
Be still. Hold on to hope. I am faithful.
I would cling tightly to those words from my Savior in the coming months because that afternoon my husband and I found out that the little girl I was carrying had a terminal diagnosis.
Friend, I am here today to remind you of one very important truth. God is faithful. God is trustworthy. Because of this we can find peace in the storms and hope when all is dark.
We believe life is sacred and precious and a gift from God, and so there was no question that I would carry our daughter until she was born. And so for the next four and a half months, as she continued to grow and move inside me, we prayed and wrestled and searched the Scriptures. What was God's word for us as we walked through the valley of the shadow of death? Was there any hope? Could we be still in the midst of the storm? Could God be trusted with our broken hearts? Would He be faithful to carry us through?
In Exodus 14 the newly-delivered Israelites found themselves trapped between two hopeless situations. Ahead of them was the impassable Red Sea; behind them the mighty Egyptian army was closing in. They gave in to despair. But Moses said to them,
"Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today....The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still."
God sent a pillar of cloud between the Egyptian army and the Israelites that brought darkness and confusion to one side but light to the other. And then He performed the miracle of deliverance–dividing the Red Sea so the Israelites could pass through on dry ground while the Egyptians got bogged down and were drowned.
As I prayed for healing for our baby girl, I meditated on how this passage displays God's character and my response to hopeless situations.
One of the verses I clung to as I carried our baby in my womb was Exodus 14:14, "The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still." As much as I wanted to wring my hands in despair, wear myself out with pleading for a miracle, and go to the ends of the earth to find a cure, I knew that this battle was not mine to fight.
Hold on to Hope
As a mighty display of His power and loving care, God provided a pillar of cloud to stand between the Egyptians and the Israelites. On the Egyptian side it was dark but on the Israelite side it was light. As I held in tension praying for the healing of our baby and grasping the reality of her fatal diagnosis, I had two choices. I could set my eyes only on the medical reports and statistics. When I did this, there was only darkness in my mind and heart. Or I could choose to focus on God's Word, the truths He spoke to me of His power, and the encouragement and hope He gave that He is a God who heals. When I did this, my heart was bathed in His light. I could hold on to hope in a God who is faithful.
God is Faithful, So We Can Trust Him
The Israelites were so quick to forgot all the wonders God had just performed to bring about their deliverance, and they began to despair and complain. Their situation certainly looked hopeless with no chance for escape, but then their deliverance from Egypt had been an equally hopeless situation. It is so easy to forget all the ways God has been faithful in our past and easily give in to despair when we face a new seemingly hopeless situation. But Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." The word "is" is present tense. God is faithful yesterday, He is faithful today, and He is faithful tomorrow.
God's faithfulness does not expire with our past, and it is not in question as we look toward tomorrow. Jesus can be trusted with your broken heart, and He is faithful to carry you through.
God hardened the hearts of the Egyptians so that "I will gain glory for myself...and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord." No matter what you are facing, God intends to bring glory to Himself through it. God often allows things to look completely hopeless before He acts so that there is no question that the end result is because of His miraculous hand at work in our lives. That end result may be the reversal of a fatal diagnosis, the deliverance from a hopeless situation, or the grace to bear the most heartbreaking loss. No matter the cause and no matter the outcome, the words of Joseph to his brothers in Genesis are true for us today: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good." Take comfort in knowing that evil has no sway over the God who intends to bring good out of our storms and who will show His mighty hand, no matter what happens.
Our daughter was born, full term, on January 18, 2018. We had seven incredibly sweet days with her before we had to give her back to Jesus. We did not see the answer to our prayers for healing in her earthly body, but our prayers were answered as she is now perfect and whole and safe in the arms of Jesus.
My Jesus, who tenderly taught my heart to be still, to hold on to hope, and to rest in His faithfulness, carried me through the most heartbreaking valley and in the process taught my heart to trust Him in a way I never have before. I am here today to tell you that no matter what darkness you are facing, there is hope in the faithfulness of God.
Be still. Hold on to hope. God is faithful.