February 4, 2019. I witnessed one of the most amazing but scary moments of my life. The birth of my first child, Azariah Simau Ioane Beralas. Amongst the rollercoaster of emotions, the most memorable was fear. Prior to the day, I had fears and anxiety about the hospital, nurses, doctors, something going wrong, cesarean procedures, high risk delivery scenarios, the health of my wife and our son and so on.
When we arrived at the hospital at 1:53 am, my wife was taken into triage and I was kept in the waiting area (rookie mistake) for what seemed like an eternity. Many thoughts raced through my mind, my faith was indeed tested.
In the gospel account of Mark, in chapter 5, we see a father who had a daughter sick to the point of death. He falls down before Jesus and begs him earnestly to heal his daughter. Later, those who were at the house, bring word that the girl has died and that there is no use to bother Jesus any longer.
"But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, Do not fear, only believe." (Mark 5:36) Fear can be one of the most crippling and sobering experiences known to mankind. It levels the playing field and crosses all distinctions of color, race, ethnicity, and culture. Jesus acknowledges this man's fear but gives him the answer, believe! Believe in what? More importantly believe in "...him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think..." (Ephesians 3:20)
The moment I held Azariah for the first time, I knew that he was a gift more than anything I could ever have imagined. All the doubts, fears, thoughts, were gone. In an instant they were replaced with joy, gratitude and a new understanding of love.
One of the most widely used models of counseling, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, according to Psychology Today, suggests that "the way people perceive a situation determines their reaction more than the actual reality of the situation..." Hope is looking beyond what you see in front of you and even what you may be feeling. When we believe and have hope, despite all those creeping negative thoughts, we can move towards change.
Life doesn't always have a happy ending and I don't want to down play any pain and suffering. However, one thing is certain -- we will all face moments in life that will bring us to a place of fear, uncertainty, doubt, anxiety, depression, or even despair. The next time you find yourself there, hear Jesus' words, "Do not fear, only believe."