Do you ever struggle with holding God at arm's length? Have you ever felt like you'd rather not grow if it's going to be so painful? Be encouraged that you're not alone and be reminded that the gentle Father is pleased when you ask for His help to trust.

When it’s a fight to trust God

Do you ever struggle with holding God at arm’s length? Have you ever felt like you’d rather not grow if it’s going to be so painful? Be encouraged that you’re not alone and be reminded that the gentle Father is pleased when you ask for His help to trust.

{Guest post: For more on this writer, see bio and editor’s notes at end.}

In February of 2016, I had a miscarriage. It was early. We only had a few short weeks to get excited, and talk about names and dream about what this little person would be like.

And then suddenly it was over. “I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat”.

I don’t even remember exactly how the technician said it, but the world stopped in that moment.
Our baby was no longer living.

This was anguish. This was pain. We were undone.
That moment felt like an eternity. But it was only a moment.

And then the world was moving, whether we felt like it or not. There were appointments to make and papers to sign and people to call.

Throughout that time the Lord sustained us. He showed us He was good, in control, and enough. He also revealed that children truly are a gift — not something we can take for granted.

Days passed, then a few months. The pain ebbed. It would occasionally return sharply, sometimes dully. But less frequently.

Then, another test. Another positive result.

Fear threatened to swallow me whole.
“I can’t do this again. I can’t be undone again. I can’t control this.”
“What if … What if … What IF??”

I knew that I wanted this too much. I wanted a child; I wanted to be a mother.
But. It couldn’t define me. It couldn’t save me.

It was good for me to pour myself out to serve another, sanctifying even. But. This would not satisfy every desire. This would not ultimately fulfill me.
No matter how much I wanted to believe it would.

A fight to trust

It is a fight to trust the Lord.
A fight for my mind and what I will *choose* to dwell on.

In the moment sometimes it doesn’t feel like a choice. But it is.
I can choose to believe that my God is enough.
I can choose to believe that He will be with me no matter what happens.
I can ask Him for what I desire. And trust that His answer is what is best for me.

I don’t have to fear the answer that I desperately do not want.
He will give me grace for that day if it comes.
He will sustain me no matter what happens. He is faithful.

A new perspective on prayer

Because of all of this, I began thinking about prayer in light of our relationship with God as his adopted children.

Children don’t have to ask you to provide them clothes to wear, or a roof over their heads or a bed to sleep in.

But we teach them to ASK if they can have a snack (before getting it themselves and making a mess), to ASK if they can use the scissors (so that they don’t hurt themselves), and so on.

We train our children to ASK.
May I …

God… Our Father… Our Daddy… wants us to ASK Him for things that we need and things that we want.

He doesn’t want us to assume that we can get what we want for ourselves apart from Him, or to assume that we are in control and that we don’t need Him.
He wants us to depend on Him, and we are dependent on Him, whether we admit it or not.

It doesn’t mean He won’t give us anything we don’t ask for, but we give Him glory if we ask for something in prayer and He answers.

This is not a complete picture of prayer, but it was a new perspective for me.

So I asked Him for the life of my child. Whatever His answer would be, I knew that He still wanted me to ask.

He was so gracious to give us a perfect baby boy. Many people asked him on our behalf. The Lord answered so many prayers through his birth. Smooth delivery. Healthy baby. Healthy Mama. Calm easy-tempered baby. Endurance for the weeks of low sleep. I could go on.

Can I trust the pain is worth it?

You might read all of this and think that I walked through the past year gracefully and with perfect faith trusting in the Lord through it all.

You’d be wrong.

That perspective on prayer was a sweet gift of comfort from Him during that season. But it had nothing to do with how I handled the trial. As Christi likes to say, my heart needed (still needs) some serious Clorox.

Having a healthy baby didn’t suddenly make things “OK” with God.

It did overshadow the pain with joy and love for my son, but I still struggle with bitterness toward God at times. I know of women who have dealt with harder circumstances for much longer than I did, and they have handled it much more maturely than I have.

I ran the gamut of emotions last year. I felt hurt, abandoned, betrayed by God. Even still, I struggle with holding him at an arm’s length because I don’t trust him.

I don’t doubt what He has done for me. That is a blessing. But I don’t trust that the pain is worth it. The worst part is the skewed selfish view that I have developed: “If I don’t work to be close to him, then maybe He will just leave me alone and not make me grow through more pain.”

You can see the ridiculousness of that, right?

I’m pulling away, hiding, from the source of all comfort, because I think that it will spare me from a future that I have zero control over.

Somehow it stuck somewhere that growth and change only come through pain. Which, in one sense is true: dying to yourself is not a cakewalk no matter your circumstances.

But painful circumstances aren’t the only thing God uses to mold us. The truth is that He is a loving Father who delights in His children. He desires a relationship with us and wants to see us become more like His Son. And yes, He is able to use painful circumstances to bring about good, but He is not sitting around looking for ways to punish His children.

I want to grow through this to the point I can look back and celebrate where God brought me because of what I walked through. So I’ll ask. And by His grace, I trust He will mature my faith and draw me closer.

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

(2 Cor. 12:9)

Editor’s note from Christi:

This young mama is the child of one of my dearest friends. I have watched her live her life seeking to glorify God. So I know how terrifying it is to open up and let others see the parts that aren’t so glory-filled. But when we admit to nothing in us, all the glory is left for God. Amen?

Sharing these “less than” moments with you is a gift. On the altar of who she wants to be she lays open this insight into what she is struggling to overcome.

C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another, “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself …” I think true encouragement is born with those same words.

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Do you ever struggle with holding God at arm's length? Have you ever felt like you'd rather not grow if it's going to be so painful? Be encouraged that you're not alone and be reminded that the gentle Father is pleased when you ask for His help to trust.

About the Guest Writer:

Bethany Harley has been married to her husband Clay for almost 4 years. She is blessed to be a stay at home mom to their new baby in College Station, Texas. She enjoys serving in the nursery, co-leading a women’s Bible study at Grace Bible Church and serving foster families in the area.

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6 responses to “When it’s a fight to trust God”

  1.  Avatar

    Thank you for your brave honesty. It ministers to those of us who struggle the same way you do. It’s good to
    know that I am not the only one.I know that only He is Good and that He loves me with perfect love in spite of
    my imperfections.

  2. Just Beth Avatar
    Just Beth

    Thank you for opening up and sharing this! I am struggling too with trying not to get too close to God. I have several health and church issues weighing on me right now. You revealed a truth about me in this post, I am afraid of asking God for anything for fear I will get it and it will be more painful. Maybe if I reach out to him he will meet me halfway.

    1. Bethany Harley Avatar
      Bethany Harley

      I’m sorry you’re struggling, it’s not a fun place to be. I hope we’ll both ask to see Him as He is and not through our fear.

  3. Ellyn Harley Coate Avatar
    Ellyn Harley Coate

    Beautifully written Bethany. You have a gift for words as well.

  4. michdeaven Avatar

    Thank you so much Bethany! I know your love for little ones runs deep, and I’m so glad God chose to give you a “yes” to your own. Your insight is a gift to many of us who have struggled with miscarriage, and all of us who have been disappointed with God for a season.

    1. Bethany Harley Avatar
      Bethany Harley

      Thank you Michelle!

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