She sat on the edge of her chair directly across from me; her body frozen in fear, eyes locked on mine, and hands tightly clenched in her lap. As I broke the news to this young woman, I could almost see the toxic mixture of stress and emotions swirling through her heart and mind, evidenced by the terrified expression on her pale, young, teenage face.
But let’s back up for just a moment. Several months prior to this meeting with me, she had turned her life around. She had recommitted her heart to Christ and her faith was stronger than ever. She had been living for Him and had allowed His peace and purpose to fill her heart. She was excited about who she was in Christ, and was committed to serving Him as best she could.
Yet in the face of this stressful situation, an unplanned pregnancy, it seemed her faith was going unrewarded – as if God had not noticed her transformation. As if He had overlooked all her efforts to live a Christ-centered life. As if faith was futile.
You see, on this particular day, this sweet young girl had come into the crisis pregnancy center where I volunteered and her worst fears had been confirmed, causing a battle between good and evil to instantly rage through her veins like wildfire. Dozens of thoughts and questions were fighting for her attention, as she tried to hold back the tears. She gradually began to open up, and it became obvious she was so weighed down by not only the fear of the future, but by the heavy fear of judgment and shame, that even breathing appeared to be an effort.
But most of all, she was confused. Why would God allow this to happen? Had He not seen that she had changed, been transformed, and was now living for Him? Was her faith a futile effort? After all, she had even made really hard sacrifices for Him as a result of her devotion to living a life grounded in her faith, including ending the ungodly relationship which had resulted in this pregnancy. But now, it all seemed futile, as the consequence of mistakes made before her faith transformation were now staring her in the face.
As I watched her go through this inner turmoil, my heart went out to her, and I knew she needed reassurance that God loved her despite her mistakes, and despite the doubts she was feeling. She needed to know her faith was not futile, and God placed this verse in my thoughts:
Psalm 139:1-2 says “O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.” (NLT)
As I shared it with her, she seemed to calm down at the thought of not having to be ashamed of her emotions, or her mistakes. God knew her heart, and all she had to do was let Him guide her actions from that point forward. I then shared with her how I had been in her shoes many years ago, as a young girl just like her, yet I had made the wrong choice. I shared how I had let my fears outweigh my faith, and I’d do anything to go back and have a do-over and I encouraged her to carry her baby to term, even if it would be hard. When she learned I had been in her shoes, truly understood what she was experiencing, and that I was there to support her and share the love of Christ- not judge her – her entire demeanor changed.
I could see a little flicker of hope in her eyes and gently reminded her that although this pregnancy was a surprise to her, it was not a surprise to God. In fact, He had been preparing her heart for months; passionately pursuing her, all the while equipping her to face this problem head on in His strength. He knew the plans He had for her, and He had prepared her.
In the same way He had drawn her to Him, He had infused her spirit with a supernatural strength and courage to persevere through this stressful situation and to make the right choice. A strength she would have never been able to muster up on her own. I wanted to help her believe that although she may not have chosen this stressful situation, God would not only be with her, but could be glorified through her. And that He not only had a plan for her life, but for her baby’s.
As I watched this beautiful young girl walk out the door that day, having chosen life for her unborn child, I was reminded of how we are all pregnant in a different way at so many points in our lives – pregnant with fears, anxieties, stress, chaos and doubts growing in our hearts.
Struck in stressful situations that rage into our life unexpectedly, or ones that seem to linger on day after day. Facing problems that seem insurmountable; circumstances that are beyond understanding; burdens and regrets that feel too heavy to carry; fear that crushes our spirits, and hopelessness that takes our breath away.
Wondering “why” God is allowing these situations in our lives. Wondering if faith is futile, and if our faith is going unnoticed by God, yet then feeling too ashamed to talk to Him about our honest feelings. But the above verse in Psalms reminds us that He already knows those thoughts, and knows everything about us, and loves us just the same.
In the midst of our stress, God longs to pulls us closer to Him – whether we are suffering the consequences of our own mistakes, or trying to balance varying hardships of life beyond our control. Even when we fail to realize it, He has been preparing our hearts for such times as these, and equipping us with His strength to carry the load.
Despite the less-than-peaceful situations we may find ourselves in, or the unexpected and sometimes unwanted surprises that catch us off guard, we can rest in knowing that our circumstances are not a surprise to God. As we trust in His ways, even without knowing all the answeres, we will experience a peace that surpasses our understanding, because faith is never futile.