Worrying during the uncertain days of parenthood
by David Vogel
My wife, Hanna, and I are expecting our first baby—a girl—this month. It’s thrilling and terrifying all at the same time, and I find myself frequently emotional, swinging between goofy grins and a sudden welling of tears without notice.
I also worry a lot.
I worry that I’m not equipped to be a good dad. I worry that we won’t have the necessary resources. I worry about her health and future. And I worry about bringing her into this world. There is so much violence and hate and suffering on this planet that I get caught up in dwelling over how this world will hurt her, or worse, push her heart away from Jesus.
I worry mostly over things that I feel inadequate to control.
A few weeks ago I was asked to sing at a memorial service. The family requested Bill Gaither’s hymn, Because He Lives. I’ve always liked this song, but the second verse resonated for me in a way it hadn’t before: “How sweet to hold a newborn baby and feel the pride and joy he brings. But greater still the calm assurance: This child can face uncertain days because he lives!”
The first phrase—“How sweet to hold a newborn baby and feel the pride and joy he brings”—perfectly matches my thrilled anticipation. (Cue sudden tear welling.) But the second half of the verse—“This child can face uncertain days because he lives”—turned my worry on its head, bringing to mind a pivotal childhood memory.
I was four or five, and my family was attending a church picnic. It was summer, the thick trees around the small lake were bright green and a little trail outlined the shores.
Mom and I were walking alone along that path, talking about how fun it would be if we found a turtle. She suggested we pray and ask Jesus to show us one. It was a simple prayer; something like, “Dear Jesus, please help us find a turtle. Amen.”
We started to walk again but stopped short. Just a few feet in front of us, in the middle of the trail, was a red-eared slider. Mom said, “Thank you, Jesus.”
That moment will live in my memory for the rest of my life because, simple as it was, it revealed to me something very profound in a very tangible way: God is always present and always caring.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is from Matthew 6, where Jesus describes how fields of flowers are better dressed than Solomon in all his splendor, and how birds that do not sow or reap are always fed. “Are you not more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matt. 6:26b-27.)
If God can choose to reveal himself in such a seemingly mundane way—a turtle on a trail—how much more can we rely on him in times of trouble?
So I’m trying to not worry so much. Just like our parents did for us, it’s up to Hanna and me to show our child how to seek the Father in everyday life, to ask for his help and to celebrate when he intercedes.
My baby girl can face uncertain days because he lives.
David Vogel and his wife, Hanna, live in Hillsboro, Kan., where he operates a graphic design studio and is the media and interim worship director at Hillsboro MB Church.
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