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Overcoming Fear in the Waiting Room

My courage comes from remembering that the Lord is my salvation.

by Jen Oshman


—PSALM 27:1

About two hours ago, a huddle of nurses and surgeons whisked my daughter away to the operating room, leaving my husband and me to watch her disappear down the corridor. We made our way to the waiting room, and we’re sitting there now. It’s a major surgery and, while we’re in one of the best hospitals in the nation, the risks that come with this surgery are big ones. I’ve had a good cry (more to come, I’m sure). I’ve walked several laps around the hospital. I’ve nervously eaten too many M&Ms. And I’ve begged the Lord over and over to hold my precious girl while I can’t. 

In God’s perfect timing, he knew I would need to meditate on this month’s memory verse, “The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). I am in the throes of fear. I am most definitely afraid. 

Last night, as we were packing our bags for the hospital, my daughter reached out for a hug and said, not for the first time, “I’m scared about tomorrow.” Of course we all were and had been for the months leading up to this momentous day.

Shifting Sand 

It’s tempting when facing fear to put our hope in things that feel immediate. My reflex with health issues is to look at the data. On the tip of my tongue last night were the statistics about risks, side effects, and mishaps the surgeon shared with us at our last appointment. I want to soothe myself and my child with the numbers that are on our side. 

Comfort in numbers is short-lived though. Sure, it’s helpful. I am so grateful to be living in a time and place where my girl is getting truly excellent and almost-always successful care. But the very minute statistics are uttered is the same minute my mind inwardly whispers, “She could be one of the very few for whom this surgery goes badly.” Data is helpful, but it’s shifting sand. 

Here in the waiting room I find myself seeking comfort by texting friends. I want to voice my fears over and over. I want them to text back repeatedly claiming, “It’s going to be okay!” I want to be persuaded by a flood of positivity. But even when I get those texts, my mind inwardly whispers, “They cannot know for sure if it’s going to be okay.” Encouraging words are helpful, but they too are shifting sand.

As the fears persist—good data and good friends just aren’t cutting it—I want to numb my mind. Better to push the fears away, to drown them out with other things. So I scroll social media. Reels of home renovations and daily workout routines and gardening tips capture my attention for a bit. Photos of a friend’s wedding and another’s graduation party lift my spirits for a second. But it’s quick. The fears are persistent. Distractions are also helpful but, again, they are shifting sand. 

When my daughter voiced her fears for the umpteenth time last night I asked her, “What do you know to be true?” She answered, “That God is faithful, and he will help me, no matter what.” Yes, sweet girl. Yes, this is it. This is not shifting sand. This is the sure foundation we’ve been rehearsing for months and it’s the one I need to run to right now: Our God is faithful, and he will help us no matter what. 

Firm Foundation

As I sit here and wait, I’m reminding myself, as I reminded my daughter last night, we must only look to the cross—to the God of our salvation—to remember that he is both almighty and all good

The cross tells us our Lord is almighty. Jesus endured crucifixion, death, and the grave, and yet rose again. Our God is victorious. He is Creator and King and Sovereign over all we can see (Col. 1:15-20). He is the Author of life and the giver of breath (Acts 17:25). It’s his rule that brought our whole world into being and it’s his will that sustains all that we can comprehend. Nothing—nothing!—is outside the almighty dominion of our God. 

The cross also tells us our God is all good. Our Father sent his Son, and Jesus willingly obeyed, even unto death on a cross (Phil. 2:7-8), that we might be reconciled to him forever. While we were sinners, enemies, and actively running from God, he stopped at nothing to make us his own (Rom. 5:8). Because of the great love with which he loved us, the Father “made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:5). The Lord did not leave us to our own devices. Our salvation proves the goodness of our God. 

We serve a God who is almighty and all good. The cross proclaims for eternity that our God is able and he is for us. No matter what.

If God Has Saved Me…

I’ll be honest: sitting here feels pretty dark. I have a dear friend who left this very hospital without her son and another whose daughter’s life was dramatically altered by the time they went home. I’m afraid of the same. I want to cling to statistics, or soothe myself with texts from my friends, or numb my mind altogether. But these things all come up short. 

I must remember my salvation. I must look to the cross. I must trade in shifting sands for the “stronghold of my life.” I must beg the Lord to remind me that he is for me. The Apostle Paul said it so well, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? ” (Rom. 8:31-32). 

Whatever is given to me today is for my good. My God is a gracious giver. My salvation came from his hand, as do all things in my life. He has proven he is trustworthy—he has proven he is almighty and he is good. 

The Lord is my light and my salvation. Come what may, I have nothing to fear. Jesus’s rescue and redemption tells me—just like I told my daughter for months and just like she told me last night—our God is faithful, and he will help us no matter what. If God has saved me, I have nothing to fear.

Jen Oshman

Jen Oshman has been in women’s ministry for over two decades on three continents. She’s the author of Enough about Me and Cultural Counterfeits, she hosts a weekly podcast about cultural events and trends called All Things, and she is the mother of four daughters. Jen's family currently resides in Colorado, where they planted Redemption Parker.

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