Standing awkwardly in the doorway of the women’s bathroom at church, door propped open on my elbow, I wasn’t sure if I should go in or quietly retreat. Behind me, through the half-open door, I could hear the worship music continuing in our Sunday morning service. But in front of me, standing at the sink, was a very-pregnant Stella, sobbing.
I looked up to Stella and her husband Rick, active members of our church and model parents of well-behaved preschoolers. Though I was a shy high school kid, Stella always greeted me with a smile and took the time to ask how I was doing. Now I stood paralyzed, feeling I had stumbled upon some private scene of grief.
Wiping frantically at the flow of tears with wadded-up paper towels, Stella tried to smile. “I’m so sorry. I’m having a hard day.”
When Trusting is Hard
The recent ultrasound didn’t look good, she explained. The doctors said there appeared to be brain damage. Their baby, the Stella and Rick were told, would probably have physical and/or mental handicaps, possibly severe.
“And today in the service when everyone was singing ‘You’re all I want, You’re all I’ve ever needed,’ I just couldn’t sing it!” Stella’s wide eyes looked at me, desperate and pleading. “I can’t honestly say right now that Jesus is all I want. I want my baby to be healthy!”
As I hugged this distraught young mother and handed her tissues, my brain was exploding with questions that rocked my teenage theology. Is it OK to admit when I’m having a hard time trusting God?
I can’t fake it before the Creator of the universe. He sees my heart. In Isaiah 29:13, He says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” God doesn’t want lip service. He desires honesty. It’s OK to be real with God about our pain. But He doesn’t want us to stay there.
“Yet a time is coming and has now come,” the Bible says in John 4:23, “when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” Worshiping in TRUTH doesn’t just mean singing songs in church. It means clinging to the lifeline of God’s promises when everything is crumbling around you.
In the following weeks and months after that encounter in the women’s bathroom, Stella and Rick held desperately to the truth of God’s Word – that He had a plan and purpose for this little one in the womb. Though the doctors said they should consider “terminating the pregnancy,” this young couple was determined to love and care for their unborn child, even if he or she was born severely handicapped.
When their baby boy was finally born, even before the doctors declared him to be perfectly healthy, Stella’s heart was already at peace. This issue had been settled months earlier, at that moment of crisis, when she had chosen to submit her desires to God’s plan, trusting that He would use it for good. That is the kind of worship God desires. That is true worship.