When I was pregnant with my son (now almost two years old), I remember feeling a lot of fear. Not fear about having a baby, but fear about something happening to my baby. I still remember feeling so anxious in those first few months as I counted down the days until the next ultrasound or doctor’s appointment, just so I could put my mind at ease, knowing that his little heart was still beating. I realized quickly that no matter how badly I wanted to keep my growing baby safe, it really was out of my control. Thankfully all was well and I became a mom to a strong and healthy baby boy.

I didn’t expect the feelings of fear to continue after he was born. I thought that once I could see him, hold him, and touch him, the fearful thoughts would go away. But after he was born, a whole new set of worries came in. I remember waking up in the night often during those first few months feeling panicked that he might not be breathing. I’d put my face right up to his so that I could hear and feel his breath. I think every new parent has probably felt that same fear at some point, but for me this was a reminder that no matter how badly I wanted to keep my son safe, there was really only so much I could do.

When my son was nine months old, he had a scary allergic reaction while eating lunch. My husband and I rushed him to the hospital and fortunately, he was okay but it left me shaken up with all of the “what ifs” of the situation. In that same week, my husband was involved in a work-related accident that could have ended really badly for him. Again, my mind went through all of the “what ifs”. That week I was reminded of how uncertain life can be and it was a reminder to me that there is only so much I can do as a wife and mom to protect the ones I love most. In both of those situations, I really had no control over the end result. However, those two events also reminded me of a great truth – there is a God who controls the things I can’t control. He is always with us and always watching over us.

My son is still a toddler and so he’s almost always with either me or my husband. We control the majority of his environment – his routine, what he eats, who he spends time with. We are his safe place. But does this guarantee his safety? No. We can make sure he’s buckled into his car seat correctly and that we follow the driving laws, but we can’t guarantee there won’t be an accident. We can feed him healthy foods and take care of him when he’s sick, but we can’t guarantee his health. As a mom, my biggest desire is to protect my son. But there is only so much I can do. And this reality has the potential to fill me with paralyzing fear. Yet it doesn’t.

Psalm 61:2 - 3 says, “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, O God. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a refuge for me.” When my fears about the future creep in and when life feels overwhelming, I have to make an active choice to turn to God and put my trust in Him, the rock. He is my refuge and my safe place. And He is in control.

But sometimes the stories don’t end well. Last October I lost a dear friend to terminal cancer. She was a mom to three young boys. I still struggle with this. If God is in control, why would He allow her to die so young? Why would He leave three boys without their mom? I don’t have the answers for that but I do know that my friend, who knew and loved God, said on the day of her death that it was a “good day”. She knew that her time on earth was done and that she was about to enter into eternity in heaven. I also know that God was and is in control the whole time. And I know He is still walking with her husband and her three sons.

So how do we trust God in those hard times? My favorite passage in the Bible is Isaiah 43:1-2. This is what God says: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed 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, you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze.” These promises have given me hope through the most difficult times in my life. First, God tells us not to fear. And then He promises that when we walk through the fires and the floods of life, that we will not be burned and we will not drown.

You might find yourself in the middle of a fire or a flood right now. Grief. Illness. Infertility. Struggles in your marriage. Financial hardship. Strained relationships. It might feel like you’ll never make it to the other side alive. But remember God’s promise. Even though you walk through the fires and the floods, you will not be burned and you will not drown. The end result might not look the way you hoped it would. You might be feeling angry, lonely, or disappointed. But I know for certain that God walks with us through our most dark and difficult times. This is the hope that I cling to. When the next flood or fire comes my way, I know I’ll make it to the other side, even if it feels impossible and even if the end result isn’t what I wanted. I can’t control the future but I know the One who does. The future doesn’t seem quite as scary when I know there is a good and loving God who is over it all. When fear creeps in, I remember God’s promises to me: He will be with me and the waters and the flames will not consume me.