Monday, May 24, 2010

Some Thoughts About Anxiety

Since Owen was born 10 days ago, I have been blessed to be able to spend a considerable amount of time with our second son. I am so grateful for God’s gift to us of this little life. I am also inclined to be very anxious about Owen’s health. Every little cough sends me into a mini-panic. While Owen is sleeping, I periodically check Owen to make sure he is still breathing.

Based upon our last few life experiences with Micah, Heather and I have “earthly” reason to be anxious with Owen and his health. We know now, from personal experience, that any one of us could lose our earthly lives—even at a moment’s notice. And this thought has created a fair amount of anxiety for me. My “natural” inclination is to do everything humanly possible (and even things that are not humanly possible) to guard Owen’s health very closely.

But living in Christ means to cast this anxiety on Christ. Even in circumstances such as ours, when we have natural or “earthly” reasons to be anxious, we are called to unload this anxiety by giving it to God. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:7 to, “Cast all your cares upon him, for He cares for you.” Notice that Peter did not say, “Cast your cares for salvation on Jesus, but you better look out for the health of your children, or for traffic accidents, ulcers or bad health.” Peter says to cast ALL of our burdens upon Christ.

In Matthew 10, Jesus encourages his disciples to preach the gospel even in the face of strong spiritual opposition because of the fact that God is sovereign even over this spiritual opposition. Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31. If God controls the life of relatively meaningless sparrows, how much more will God be involved in every aspect of our lives, including the opposition we face. No amount of opposition faced by the disciples in their ministries would catch the Father by surprise. Similarly, nothing in our lives will catch God by surprise.

Only because Jesus is sovereign over all of life can we throw, heave, unload all our burdens onto God. If we have a “small” view of God or the reach of his hands, then we can't go to him with our anxieties, because (at least in our mind) there would be aspects to our lives where God is indeed powerless. But because God is powerful over all of life, we can go to Jesus with our greatest fears and anxieties. Nancy Guthrie says, “We need our confidence in God’s goodness and justice to loom so large that we, too, can entrust ourselves to our Father without fear and without resentment.” Nancy Guthrie, Hearing Jesus Speak into your Sorrow, 18.

Ultimately, it is a form of pride for me to live in anxiety over Owen’s life. Anxiety assumes that I am in control--an assumption that should have been forever destroyed after I held my oldest son in my arms as he died. In contrast to anxiety, submission to God recognizes God's power and control over my life. I pray for a Christ-like submission to God's loving plan for Owen, for Heather and for me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Give Thanks!

“Give Thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1.

Heather and I are pleased to announce the birth of our second son, Owen Robert Wessman. Owen was born at 11:26 am on Friday, May 14, 2010. Owen weighs 7 pounds 13 ounces and is 22 inches long. Both Heather and Owen are healthy.

Last Friday, the verse that Heather and I had in mind throughout the delivery was Philippians 4:5-7: “The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Given our experiences, we have had earthly reason to be anxious for the health of our new little son. But the Lord gave us a sense of His presence; The Lord was “at hand” at Owen’s birth.

We are so very thankful for little Owen. We know that we are not entitled to another child. God does not “owe us” Owen. Owen is a gift —a gift that we are so grateful to receive.

We also know that no amount of anxiety on our part can do anything to change God’s sovereign plan for Owen. The same God who determines times and seasons, who sets up rulers and kingdoms, who determines allotments and lifespans has the life of little Owen in his arms. God’s plans for Owen, as they were for Micah, have not changed from the beginning. Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” And, James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” God was not surprised by Micah’s death, nor was Owen’s life unplanned by God. God is working out his plan for Heather, for me, for Micah and for Owen. And these plans are unchanged. Let’s continue to trust that the Lord is at hand, and for the peace of God to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Card

Mommy, if I could write a card
Then even though it would be hard
I’d write in the language of Heaven
Words of encouragement and affection

To tell you how much I love and miss you
How our time together was such a treasure
And how well you cared for me all the way through
My affection for you continues beyond measure

While my little life was so short in the world’s eyes
God’s great love for me now, in eternity,
Demonstrates that in my little life He does not despise,
But has a love for me vast, boundless and free

While I know this first Mother’s Day without me is so hard;
Live in the hope that this day is not forever marred
Because your short life will soon be over, and then forever, together, we’ll be
Mommy and Micah B.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Billy's Song for Micah

Our friend Billy wrote this little song based upon the poem I wrote for Micah's funeral.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Proof of Faith

A few months ago, I ran into a friend who seemed to know how Heather and I were doing and, at least in his opinion, think that we were doing well. “You know that you and Heather are amazing people,” he told me. When I didn’t say anything in response, he took my silence to mean disagreement with his comment (which it was). “Oh, I know, I know, it is all about God.” I then smiled in agreement.

My faith is not the result of my own will power to overcome death and tragedy—or simply the “power of positive thinking.” My faith is not based upon the superseding strength of my intellectual commitment to theism, Protestant Christianity, or my church’s statement of faith. My faith is not the result of wishful thinking, an attempt to honor my own family’s heritage of faith, or the desire for social approval.

None of these things, on their own, would be sufficient to continue to trust God following the death of my son. The devil’s power to tempt us to depression, denial or something equally destructive is far more powerful than any of these things, alone or together. In the absence of the Holy Spirit in my life, I would certainly not be leaning upon God in this tragedy. Left to our own strength and resources, Heather and I would NOT be following God after Micah’s death.

But praise God, for in spite of the occurrence of our worst nightmare, He has given us the gift of faith. This gift of faith brings with it a very tangible benefit--the Holy Spirit living and working in our lives. The Holy Spirit has not left us alone; He has comforted us with the love of Christ. In Titus 3:4-7 Paul says, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Charles Spurgeon taught that Christians should be grateful for trials because our faith is “proved” by the trials. “…Your faith in God is proved when you can cling to him under temptation. Not only your sincerity, but the divinity of your faith is proved; for a faith that is never tried, how can you depend upon it? But if in the darkest hour you have still said, “I cast my burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain me,” and you find he does sustain you, then is your faith that of God’s elect…” Charles Spurgeon, adapted from his sermon “A Joy in All Trials” in Be Still my Soul, edited by Nancy Guthrie, p. 105.

Heather and I could tell you that we could not do it on our own, no matter how hard we tried. To the extent that we have grieved well, it serves as a “proof” of our faith. It shows that the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, comforting us in the words of Christ and teaching us to look at Micah’s death from an eternal perspective. By the “washing” of the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, we are hoping in eternal life. Yes, our response to Micah’s death is indeed all about God.