When Your Worst Fears are Realized
Marybeth Whalen

“You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’” Lamentations 3:57 (NIV)

All my life, I had two very real fears: that I would have a child with a birth defect, and that my marriage would break up. Even before I was married, I worried about how I would handle these things if they happened. Perhaps that seems silly to some, but some of you might know exactly what I am talking about. Your fears are always lurking, taunting you with their possibility.

In Isaiah, God told Hezekiah of the impending exile of his descendants to Babylon, but assured him he would already be dead by the time this happened. In our humanness, we can identify with Hezekiah when he thought with relief, “At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime” (Isaiah 39:6-8, NLT). That was Hezekiah’s fear talking—fear that something terrible like that would happen in his lifetime. And what a loud voice fear can have. Sometimes it can even overpower the voice of God as He lovingly reassures us of His nearness.

As you can probably guess, my two worst fears were realized. My third child was born with a severe birth defect that kept him hospitalized for months, then with full-time nursing care when he was home. He was dependent on a trach and a g-tube just to live. I had entered a world I knew nothing about, the very world I had feared all my life. Later on, in the aftermath of our son’s birth, my marriage also fell apart. The years of struggle and financial stress took their toll and left my husband and I virtual strangers. We would have to fight to save our wrecked marriage. I was living my worst nightmare.

But I was living.

I learned in the midst of our struggles that our verse today is so true. God does draw near to us in the midst of our worst fears. Even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death—the death of a loved one, the death of our dreams, the death of a marriage—He is with us, just as He promised. Not only is He near us, He is working things out, growing our faith and our character as we wrestle with our fears and learn to accept His will. While we can’t understand why He allows our fears to materialize, we later realize that we have come to know Him in a whole new way through them. He is our reward for persevering.

I know that, for me, I have come to appreciate what I went through and, while I would never choose to go through it again, I also am grateful (yes, grateful) for what God birthed within me as I lived out my worst fears. I learned that in our struggles we will see Him. In our trials we will learn to trust Him. And in our fears we will come to a new level of faith.

Dear Lord, Help me to trust in You even as my fears are realized. Help me to hear Your voice telling me that You are with me, and that I don’t need to be afraid. Help me to feel your nearness. Most of all, Lord, help me to see Your purpose for me even as I am walking through trials. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Have you ever trusted Jesus with your fears?

Pre-order your copy of An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears (Release date March 1) by Micca Campbell

Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended to Bear by Max Lucado

Visit Marybeth’s blog for more encouragement.

Application Steps:
If you have had to face your greatest fears and learned something from them, venture over to Marybeth’s blog today, where she will have a place for you to share what you learned, how you were changed, and how you got to know God in a deeper way. You never know how your story will encourage someone else!

What are some of your greatest fears? Spend time today contemplating why these fears have taken root in your heart and telling God how you are feeling.

Power Verses:
Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)

Isaiah 43:1b, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (NIV)

Genesis 15:1, “After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (NIV)

© 2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Lynette said...

Thank you for this. It came at a time that I needed it most.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can relate to your situation. My husband and I welcomed into the world a set of twins 14 years ago today. A son and our only daughter. Our daughter was born with two rare birth defects. Sure things were rough, asking why, blaming ourselves then each other, but I thank God that our marriage was based on His Love and that is what has kept us together and strong. Our daughter will always have issues, but she is definitely an aspiration to all who meet her. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your devotion ministered to me today! I have been dogged by fear these last few weeks. I am approaching the 2 year mark of my breast cancer diagnosisand have found my self feeling very fearful. God has healed me and has given me the grace to not dwell on this everyday, however, for some reason, I have been experiencing fear. I know God is good and faithful. Today I am 48 years old, today is my 27th wedding anniversary and I am blessed with 3 children: our son is 23 years old; our middle daughter is 14 years old and our youngest daughter is 3 years old. Our youngest is my claim to fame - a baby at 44 years old. GOD IS FAITHFUL and MERCIFUL. Amen and Amen!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can relate to both of your fears. I have not yet been married but I have had a sometime overwhelming fear of it. I was raped as a young girl and that was my first time with a man. I built on that fear to not let anyone get close to me for fear more of the amount of hurt that could come and that I could not handle more. God revealed to me recently through a test that I do not have to fear a man no more. He showed me that he remembered my prayers of frustration, pain, and questions of why one night right after that happened. He showed me that he I was the closest to him later when I lost my child at birth praying in the same way but even deeper was the pain. I could not do it anymore but I cried out to him like I never had before. I sought him like never before. Like the gentleman that He is He held me then and loved me as I struggled through it on my own and waited for me to open up to him my damaged heart. He found me most beautiful in those moments because I sought him with everything every cell every fiber of my being. He has healed and blessed me in ways I could not even begin to explain. God has taken those fears from me and replaced them with a foundation of his love. I am told that "You are a women after God's own heart" what a humbling honor. What a place to be. How majestic is our King, our Savior, our Father? He loves every once, every fiber, everything about you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. As others have said, God has used you to speek for Him. I am pregnant and the doctors are concerned that the baby is not growing as he or she should. All I have to do is wait to see what happens over the next few weeks. Today I started spotting and was as afraid as I have ever been. I needed to know that God is near and telling me not to be afraid. Thank you for your ministery.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jessica;

I read your comment and I felt for you immensely. Your fear is very real.
I prayed for you, although I have not met you. But what matters is that you are my sister in the Lord, and I feel your anguish. I am only reading this the day after, so I don't know what the outcome of your spotting was. I just hoped it wasn't a miscarriage. You may not read this, but I just wanted to post this encouragement for you--that I prayed for you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing what I really needed to hear. God's love is never ending~ Thank Jesus!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont know where to start! Apart of me feels i should pour out my heart so that you may have a better understanding of my circumstances. However the idea of posting personal information also frightens me. Today i found out that my gramma ( who basically raised me) is believed to have gall bladder cancer. Is it not wonderful how god is there for you... comforting you by a simple daily devotion...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your devotional today. I so whole-heartedly agree. The Lord has taken me down paths that I never could've foreseen and drawn me closer to Him each step of the way. When our second child was born with multiple disabilities, my husband said he didn't think he could handle it happening again. He withdrew from us by keeping busy with work and college classes, and was afraid to help in any of the care for our new child. When genetic tests said that what our son had was a random fluke and not likely to happen again, we decided to try again. But in His infinite wisdom, the Lord did allow it to happen again. My husband became even more withdrawn and depressed. When the baby was just 4 months old, my worst fears for him were realized when he passed away in his sleep of cardiac arrest at the age of 36.

We've been through some very deep valleys since then, and sometimes I wonder just what the Lord could be thinking to allow us to be there, but through it all, we have learned that sometimes there is no where else to go but to him on our knees or with heads bowed and lean on Him. It has absolutely been a blessing to walk through this, knowing without a doubt that He is there beside us every step of the way and even picks us up when we can't go on.

Isaiah 43:1(b) - 2

"“Fear not, for I have redeemedd you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire,i you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (NIV)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I too have a child with a birth defect. She is now 14 and the most precious daughter anyone could ask for.I had a duaghter with a brain injury also and my marriage also fell apart and ended up divorce. I really could relate to your message today. I wish you all the very best with everything you endure. May the Lord bless you each day.

Blogger Mary said...

I just want to be an ecouragement. When we get into fear we need to remember that fear is -

F alse
E vidence
A ppearing
R eal

Take that fear to God and cast it upon Him because He cares for us. Also find a scripture pertaining to that situation and confess God's word out loud over that fear because the Word of God says we shall have whatsoever we say. The spoken word of God is powerful. Our words are powerful we can speak words of life or death. Our fears do not have to become real. I try to remember these things that my wonderful Pastor has taught me when I find myself getting over into fear. Thank you for Proverbs 31 ministry.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am amazed that so many others have experienced this. I guess I'm naive to some things. I, too, lived out my deepest fear. I was HAPPILY married for 17 years. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. ...then my world came crashing down in an instant. I found out my husband had been having an affair for a couple of months (totally shocked); and not only that, but I later realized that he decided that he didn't want to be married to me any longer (I had held onto hope that God would restore our marriage). There was no working it out--he wasn't interested. We had been Christians our entire lives. Satan came into our home and destroyed it-through choices and decisions that were made. Now I had been married from a young age and that was the only life I had known; only to find myself "alone" for the first time in my life- alone with our precious children--very lonely, very scary. But--I found out I wasn't alone. I had a Father who did not and WOULD NOT ever leave me!!! I had always loved God, but for the first time in my life...I fell deeply IN LOVE with Him. He is my savior and the love of my life. It has been 6 years since my world fell completely apart and I thought I may never smile again....BUT, I am remarried now to an incredible, Godly man. God healed my broken heart completely. I now know that no matter what comes my way, I don't have to be afraid because I have a Father who loves me and has my best interest at heart, and who will never leave me. I don't have to be afraid anymore because I have my trust in God.

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