Letting Joy Defeat Dread

During her son’s last weeks of deployment, an anxious military mom learns to let her faith take charge.

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Posted in , May 12, 2017

A military mom's faith overcomes doubt.

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24, NIV)

I awoke to another beautiful spring day. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. But all I felt was dread when I should have been filled with anticipation. In a few short weeks our son would come home from his first deployment. The wait was almost over. Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling of impending doom.

The seemingly perfect day continued as I went through the motions. The heaviness in my soul was compounded by the condemnation I heaped on my head. Why was I so set upon believing that tragedy would strike now? Why couldn’t I believe that he was truly going to make it home? Why didn’t I believe I was going to see my son soon? 

What I didn’t know then was that my feelings were normal. For military families, it’s not unusual for dread to overshadow joy during the last few weeks of deployment. Unfortunately, the stories of a soldier injured, or worse, right before coming home can haunt military families.

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Refusing to let ourselves rejoice is a type of self-protection. I would argue that it’s not a healthy one. I had faced an ongoing battle of faith against fear during our son’s deployment. God had used this situation to strengthen my belief, but now, in the last few weeks, I had turned from Him. Old habits of trying to control everything took over.

On that sunny day, I took back the ground I’d lost.

By mid-afternoon, even I was sick of my mopey self. I grabbed my Bible and my journal and retreated to my bedroom. I began to read, filling my mind with truth instead of what-ifs. That was when I reread this story in Mark. In it, I saw the answer to my own dilemma. As I read that verse aloud, the clouds in my soul parted and the sun shone.

Belief was a choice, not a feeling. 

I would live in anticipation and belief that our son was coming home. When the doubt reared its ugly head, I would call out for help. Our son did return home—from this deployment and from his next. I never forgot the lesson God showed me, and it has stood me in good stead through many challenges since.

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