It was two o’clock in the morning when I heard it. The dry, barky cough coming from my four-year-old’s room. It didn’t sound like it was deep in his chest, but it was hard enough to cause him to start dry-heaving. My husband and I both got up, jetted across the hallway, and went into my son’s room in order to console and change bed sheets. It was going to be a long night. We had given him so much water to help his distress, that my son had coughed up water all over his big boy bed. Now, his lips were not turning blue; he wasn’t gasping for air. He was just coughing hard, really hard. But, when you wake up from a deep sleep, fight or flight kicks in, so my heart was rushing and adrenaline was pumping. My baby needed his mama bear; a mama bear who was ready to do anything to make her baby feel better. By this moment in the wee hours of the morning, we had already tried humidifier, steam showers, drinks of water (which were now all over his sheets), medicine, you name it. In the midst of my little man’s cries, I lay hands on him and began to pray for his healing. I was scared, my pulse was racing, so I cried out to the Lord. I quoted scripture. I reminded Jesus of how He had healed many and raised the dead, so surely, my baby boy’s violent coughing was nothing for the King of kings, right? I was half out of it, but still with it enough to know that my boy was still hacking up a lung. Fear took root a little more, and fear, if unchecked, will quickly reap into a harvest of bitterness.
Once the bed sheets were changed and my son’s cough had subsided enough (like I prayed for), I went back to bed… angry. I found myself in the middle of the night mad at God. Mad that He didn’t do what I wanted Him to do. “You healed in the Bible! Why not take my kid’s cough COMPLETELY?!” My baby boy was scared; I was scared. My husband knew it was just a cough and that it would be okay. Here’s the thing: to me, it wasn’t just a cough. It must have been something worse. In my mom-mind, I thought that coughing was pneumonia. Like, hard core pneumonia. It couldn’t merely be a cough; his lungs had to have been slowly filling with liquid, though it sounded like a dry cough, and he couldn’t breath, yet his crying showed he could get plenty of air. I allowed distress to plant fear in my heart and mind instead of trusting that God does, in fact, hear my cries (Psalm 3:4)*.
Fear has a way of seeming totally rational in the moment, and sometimes it is. When you are looking face to face with a real mama bear that can rip your face off, it is okay to be scared (yet another reason I don’t go camping). That is a legitimate fear. The outcome is pretty much known. I’m talking about fear of the unknown. Fear to step out, fear to move, fear of failure, fear of dreaming and it not happening, fear of praying big because what if God doesn’t answer it and I look foolish… and my kid still has a cough? As Christians, we can operate in a place of fear, as if this is it. This world is all we can look forward to. We are scared of our fractured reputation, loss of income, or even our own life for the sake of the Gospel. But, if we truly believed and lived like this world was not our home, that there is more and that God does know His plans for us, we move out of the realm of fear and into true freedom in Christ. (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 33:11, John 8:34-36)*. Fear is not of the Lord; freedom is. Satan stops us by crippling us with fear, and as I reminded the Lord in my frantic prayers at two in the morning, Jesus healed the crippled and lame. When Satan tries to stop and destroy, my Jesus will heal those crippled souls on the way to the pool (See John 5). Pretty boss, if you ask me.
I don’t want to operate from a place of fear. I want to fully trust what the Lord is doing and the plans that He has for my life. It’s exciting, but nerve racking at the same time. When I first became a Christian at the age of 15, I would constantly pray that my life would be an adventure. I didn’t want to be boring and mundane. I shouldn’t be surprised or scared when God answered it. An adventurous story is an exciting story. Living and operating in a place where God can use your life inspires others to do the same. Stories about friends skydiving are only exciting if they jump out of the plane. Otherwise, it was just a really expensive flight to go on while having some instructor strapped to your back, which not only sounds lame; it’s a little odd. Again, Jesus heals the lame. When we trust Him, He helps us to walk in freedom, not fear. The spirit of fear is not of God (2 Timothy 1:7)*, so if it’s not of God, it can’t be holy. Fear will lie to your face that something won’t work, though God says to trust Him. Fear will say stay on the bench (pew) and do nothing for the Lord because it will cost you too much or it’s “the pastor’s job”. Fear will say no when God says yes. Fear will make you lame.
My son’s cough was merely that. I took him to the doctor the next morning, and the doctor heard one cough and said, “Oh, yeah. That’s croup.” Croup?! Not his asthma flaring up. Not pneumonia. Not some horrible disease. Croup can be lethal if it gets bad enough and in small children, so please don’t think I am taking this illness lightly. However, for my 4-year-old, the viral infection just had to run its course. He was given an oral steroid, and I was told to keep doing what I was doing. If it was something as simple as croup, why didn’t God heal him? Then, just as I reminded the Lord of what He did and said in the Bible, Jesus reminded me of His own words, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3b) Ok, Lord. I hear ya. The scare in the middle of the night was God reminding me not to let fear dictate my prayers or my faith, but to trust and know that God is in control. Bad stuff is going to happen. Kids will get sick. Sinful actions will happen to me and because of me. The same is true for you. Part of living the adventure and the plans God has for you is to say yes to freedom and no to fear. Jump from the plane instead of taking the flight back down. Get in the game, not warm the bench, or pew. Don’t allow yourself to be lame. Get up and go.
Psalm 3:4 “To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
Psalm 33:11 “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
John 8:34-36 “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”