It was early 1997. I was thirty-five weeks into my pregnancy with my youngest child when I learned she had spina bifida. The two weeks that followed were a whirlwind of activity, as I was referred to one doctor after another in order to get an accurate prognosis. During one such appointment, I sat in front of a specialist. He offered no hope. Instead his voice droned on and on with sterile facts of the hardship that lay ahead for us, while I tried to grasp the meaning of his words. “Your baby has a very severe birth defect. She will have no use of her legs…She has a brain malformation…”
In the midst of life-shattering news, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Philippians 4:6-9–
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. NLT
I immersed myself in God’s Word. I focused on His promises of healing. I contacted several prayer chains, enlisting the prayer support of thousands around the globe. I was confident that God was at work on my little daughter’s behalf, and I was surrounded by His peace.
Jordanne was born on the seventh of April, a beautiful baby girl with dark wavy hair, an adorable little face, and a hole in her back. Even though I had not witnessed “a miracle,” I continued to trust the Lord with a grateful heart. As the weeks and months progressed, I discovered joy in hidden places and learned how to live with a new kind of normal.
You see, my friend, perspective will make or break you. God’s Word affirms that a person in crisis who prays with thanksgiving and maintains a positive perspective through Philippians-thinking will be blessed with peace. Focusing attention on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise instead of the problem produces peace. Peace comes, because the God of peace is with you. Social science research supports the truth of maintaining a positive perspective, as well. Active faith has been shown to be an important coping resource for people facing difficult circumstances.
So what happens when life takes an unexpected turn? What do you do when you are actively pursuing God’s plan for your life and then you are blindsided by obstacles? Whether it is a child with a disability, leadership challenge, business setback, financial shortage, relational disappointment, or health problem, you end up in a completely different place than you intended. Seek the God of peace, and He will be with you. Ask Him to help you develop a Philippians-thinking perspective.
I’m not a proponent of pie-in-the-sky platitudes. You don’t have to pretend. The Book of Psalms serves as a powerful model of honest, raw heart cry to The Lord. By all means, bring your hurts, disappointments, and fears to Him. Run to Jesus when it is hard. But also expect Him to move in ways you simply cannot imagine. View your situation as a way through which The Lord will reveal Himself to you, to unfold His new and creative solutions. Trust Him for the courage you need to take the next step. And, be on the look out for the hidden blessings along the way.
My daughter, Jordanne, is physically limited and uses a wheelchair for mobility, but I have discovered so much about God and life because of her. I would never have chosen this destination. Nevertheless, I thank God for it, and He is with me.