I squinted my groggy eyes in the direction of the digital clock perched strategically at the side of my bed. The fluorescent digits told me it was 1:20 a.m.
I tried to take a deep breath, but my heart was pounding against my rib cage. I wished my anxiety could be blamed on a bad dream, but I knew the text message I had received a few hours earlier was reality:
“She has gone into labour at 25 weeks. Need lots of prayer please.”
The message had come from a friend’s husband in South Africa. His wife was pregnant with triplets, and her contractions had started far too early.
I wish I could truthfully say that my first reaction was a godly one, but instead, the first three words in my response were: “Oh shucks. Okay.” I did remember to include that “Our God is in control,” as the lyrics to the song by Steven Curtis Chapman came to mind in that moment … but I’m pretty sure the reminder was for me, not them.
As one might expect, my condition upon hearing this news was not one of peace, but of panic. However, the Lord reminded me of a sermon I had heard just two weeks earlier, on Mother’s Day. The pastor had spoken that day on the topic of the fears that we have as mothers.
In the sermon, he said this:
“The greatest tranquilizer for fear is found at the throne.”
In this moment of crisis for my friends, I forced myself to think back on the essential truths that were preached that day, surely for such a time as this. In his message, the preacher used the example of Moses’ mother, Jochebed, deciding to leave her son on the riverside. Like my friend in labor with triplets at 25 weeks, the situation that Jochebed faced was one of life or death.
The king at the time had declared an edict that all Hebrew baby boys be killed. Yet in faith, Jochebed “got a papyrus basket for [her son] and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile” (Exodus 2:3).
Can you even begin to fathom what she must have endured during those moments?
Anything could’ve happened.
As mothers, this is one of our innate abilities – to imagine the worst possible scenario, or even a myriad of potential tragedies. Yet as Elisabeth Elliot so wisely pointed out, “There is no grace for your imagination.”
God has not promised to give grace for every possible situation we might conjure up in our imaginations. He doesn’t give grace for the ‘what if’s’ or what could happen – but He does promise that His grace is sufficient for what is happening (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Moses’ mother could have been paralyzed by fear. Yet the book of Hebrews says that by faith she did not fear the king’s edict (Hebrews 11:23). As our pastor pointed out, “She gave the gift back to the giver of life.”
In the Lord’s grace, all three of my friends’ babies were born alive. The new parents of triplets demonstrated their faith in the living God as they wrote in an e-mail announcement: “He is the creator and sustainer of life, and we trust Him in His plan.”
When their three precious babes weighed less than two pounds each, these Christ-followers laid each gift on the banks of the Nile and waited to see the Lord’s plan unfold.
Later that same day, I learned of another friend’s young adult son serving in the military, who had just survived a rocket attack at his base.
The testimonies of the parents, the wife of the soldier, and the man himself were remarkable. Clearly the Lord Himself had enabled them to rest in His sovereignty, purely by His grace.
A quote was spoken that evening as we prayed for this soldier and his family. Stonewall Jackson once said in battle, “Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death.”
If I really believed that, I would realize that my own three children might not wake up tomorrow. Whether your children are tucked tightly into their cozy beds, or hooked up to ventilators in ICU 15 weeks premature, or commanding troops on the front lines, none of us as parents has any control whatsoever over our children’s wellbeing.
We have to trust God.
Every single stage of parenting comes bottled up with its own concoction of fears and reasons to worry.
The anxiety can be utterly crippling at times.
In fact, even as I typed this article, I received news that one of the triplets was in trouble. The text message said, “Pray for a miracle.” Instead of following my own advice to put my trust in God, I burst into tears as soon as I read the news. My hands were shaking, and for an hour, I couldn’t pull it together.
But that’s exactly what Satan intends – he wants us to allow the fear of the ‘what if’s’ to paralyze us, and to take our eyes off Jesus.
Instead, as our pastor urged during his sermon, we ought to “focus our mothering eyes away from self and rivet them on our Sovereign.”
May we follow the example of Moses’ mother, and may God grant us all the grace to trust in His sovereignty as we take the gifts He has granted us and lay them on the banks of the Nile.
To hear the full audio version of the sermon mentioned in this article, click here.
Kate Motaung is the wife of a South African pastor and homeschooling mom of three. She has contributed to Ungrind, Radiant Magazine, (in)Courage, StartMarriageRight.com, Thriving Family, MOPS and Young Disciple magazine. You can read more from Kate at her blog, Heading Home or on Twitter @k8motaung.