About two weeks ago now, my wife Amber noticed some swelling in her left leg. She was experiencing some pain and discomfort, but (being the strong woman that she is) wasn’t sure about getting it checked out. After a call with our midwife, however, she decided to go in for an ultrasound.

Now, when you go in for an ultrasound, they usually send whatever results you get to your primary care physician. The ultrasound technicians themselves aren’t doctors, so they’re really not supposed to give you any information, because they very well could be wrong.

Nevertheless, Amber knew something was up when the tech kept looking at her mid-ultrasound and asking, “do you still feel okay?” and then about 10 seconds later “how about now? You okay?”

And then a little later, “you really need to see your doctor, like…right now.”

Hospital! Here we are in the hospital. Amber remains cheerful while I furiously text our family updates :)

It took a little pressing from Amber, but the tech finally admitted that they thought Amber could have a serious blood clot in her left leg. Of course, blood clots are no joke, for mother or baby, so we rushed to hospital, where Amber was admitted for monitoring and treatment. She was 36 weeks pregnant at that time.

Slowly the implications of this began to sink in:

  • We would not have the home birth that we had been planning for and looking forward to. Amber was now considered a high risk case so this was no longer possible. Our other children, Jensen and Selah would not be able to be present at the birth of their sibling.
  • Amber’s mobility would be seriously hindered, and possibly for quite some time. She would have to manage pain.
  • There would be an element of risk of complications for both Amber and the baby that--even though Amber would be on medication--would nevertheless be continually present. There is even now a very real risk that a part of that blood clot could break off and enter Amber’s heart or lungs.

The stress level of our lives has gone up…considerably.

Of course, Amber is navigating all of these implications with grace and strength: typical Amber.

But let me be honest: I have not. I am by nature a worrier, and I tend to allow the “what-if” scenarios rule in my mind and by extension–because that’s how these things work–my heart. My struggle against worry and fear has been constant.

I have had many moments where I am freaking out on the inside because I can’t bear the thought of what could happen to my dear, sweet wife or to our precious little one that is waiting to be born.

A few days after Amber came home from the hospital I attempted to pray the Psalm for the day, which begins like this:

Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.

(Psalm 26:1-3 ESV)

As I made my way through the Psalm I thought, How can I pray this? How can I say this to my Lord and my God when I do in fact waver, sometimes every hour of every day? And it’s not that I don’t want to…more than anything I want to trust in Jesus but no matter how much I want to, the more I try to force some faith, the more it seems to slip through my fingers and I realize that I am helpless. I am weak. I do not possess in myself even the ability to believe.

But it’s not just a piece of poetry from the Old Testament that confronts me on this, but the the words of Jesus himself. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

In Matthew 6, Jesus says, over and over, “do not be anxious.”

At the beginning of the very chapter we are in right now Jesus said, ““Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1 ESV)

I feel like like I love Jesus, I know I want to love Jesus. I have dedicated my life to loving Jesus..and yet, this simple statement devastates me.

Does it devastate you?

Do you grasp the difficulty?

You and I can’t work for Jesus, or speak about Jesus, or bring others to Jesus, or really love others at all, much less love Jesus as he says, by keeping his commandments. We just can’t do it. We’re not able to do it.

At least, not on our own.

I’m reminded of what Jesus says just a few verses later in chapter 15: “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

And that’s why what Jesus says next in John 14 is such good news.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth..”

This is the beginning of some good news! God will send us help to accomplish what we can’t under our own power! And that help will be a person…God the Holy Spirit himself.

In his daily devotional on the Holy Spirit, A. W. Tozer says,

“Indeed it is not possible to love Jesus rightly except by the Holy Spirit. Only the Third Person of the Trinity can love the Second Person in a manner pleasing to the Father. The spiritual love of Jesus is nothing else but the Spirit in us loving Christ the Eternal Son.”

I love Jesus, and I want to obey his commandments. I want to love him and other people, but I need a Helper. Thank God Jesus has not left us as orphans.

Thank God he sends us his Spirit.

This post is an edited excerpt of a recent sermon. Listen to the whole thing here.