Life was certainly “in the balance” on that hot summery night in July 2003. It was a night when life as I knew it could have been drastically changed. Two weeks prior, my pregnant wife had been rushed to the NHS Trust hospital in Warrington, England. Due to a complication in the pregnancy and then negligence at a hospital in Manchester, our baby boy and my wife’s lives hung “in the balance”. At a young age of 25 and new to the country, I sat on my own that night looking up into the star-filled sky wondering if I would have a wife, let alone a family. I did my best to “keep it together”. I phoned my family in America, my wife’s family in the Philippines and our pastors here in the UK to inform them of the situation and to ask for constant prayer – which was given without asking. At that moment, I had to rely upon the core of my belief and trust that God was present with me and my family whilst our lives were hanging “in the balance”.
Just after 11pm that night, our baby boy was rolled out in a mobile incubator all bundled up with his adorable little face looking right at me for a few seconds whilst he was being transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. He was born 11 ½ weeks early, weighing 3lbs 11 oz, just the size of my hand. Even though his life was still hanging in the balance, I had a peace within that he would be just fine.
A few hours later, I had the chance to see my wife. She had lost a lot of blood but had pulled through the emergency Caesarean with flying colours. That night I knew that, although I was physically on my own and the lives of my son and my wife were uncertain, there was someone who was keeping us, someone who was there “in the balance” – God.
When life is “in the balance”, we are assured that He is there – “When you walk through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Is 43:2). I want to encourage you that at the loneliest, darkest times of your life, God is there to take care of you. Sometimes it is hard to imagine that he is there, but I can attest to it by my own experiences.
What can you do when life seems to be “in the balance”?
1. Recognise your limitations. My biggest challenge that night was my own limitation. I couldn’t rescue my wife or son. I was powerless to change the situation. I had to recognise my limitations and rely upon the expertise of the medical team – despite previous experience.
One of the main problems we have as human beings is our ability to recognise that we all have limitations. Everyone has limitations – some are born with physical limitations, others are born into social limitations due to skin colour or economic status, while others discover or end up with limitations due to life-altering circumstances. I am always humbled when I meet people who have not let their limitations keep them from achieving what society tells them they can’t achieve. As the health and wellbeing “expert” for Universal Inclusion UK – an organisation that helps entrepreneurs with disabilities (some of whom had been sacked or moved to a less satisfying role due to being disabled) find the resources needed to give them the right support towards success, I have met people who haven’t allowed their physical limitations hold them back. The levels of achievement have been incredible.
The truth of the matter is, we were designed to be limited. In fact, there is nothing on this earth that is self-sufficient. Why? You and I were created to thrive with God as our complete source of strength and ablity. Due to sin, our connection to the limitless source, the one who makes all things possible has been severed – hence the reason why Jesus came. He did not die just to give you and I eternal life once we die, but to restore us to a relationship with God that reconnects each of us to Him and Him to us, and then each of us with each other.
2. Recognise God. You may have heard the story about the rich young ruler. He came to Jesus in desperation because he realised there was something missing in his life. He recognised that despite his success in life – wealthy, morally and ethically good, a law-abiding citizen, he was limited. He knew he needed to do something to be saved or right with God. When he was told to sell everything he had, give it to the poor and become follower of Jesus, he went away sad because his achievements became his security and then his final limitations. When Jesus overheard his own disciples wondering who could ever be saved, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God – God makes all things possible.” (Mark 10:17-27) The disciples thought that out of everyone they met, the young ruler appeared to be the role model to follow. They failed to recognise that human success will always be limited because it will never be success without Him.
One of my favourite verses in the Bible is found in the book of Philippians: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (4:13). I have relied on that verse so many times in my life. What does it mean? The context of the writing comes from a man (Apostle Paul) who had discovered how to be content in every circumstance – from living in dire situations to living in abundance. He discovered the key to staying mentally healthy – faith in Jesus. Listen to the same verse from The Passion Translation: “For I am trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty [or to master all things].”
Although it was easy for me to recognise my own limitations and having to rely upon the medical team, ultimately all I could do was trust in God.
3. Trust. “Trust and obey there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”, is the simple chorus to an old hymn which comes into my spirit and soul at times of uncertainty. I will never forget the moment when I was in a place of uncertainty on a fast-paced highway whilst traveling through the Rocky Mountains towards Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. If anyone knows me, driving a car is not what I call a relaxing, pastime experience. If the truth be told, I’d rather be a passenger in any mode of transport.
On that sunny June day, I was driving my eldest brother’s car whilst following the moving truck he was driving – he and his wife were relocating from Oregon to Iowa. Being only 20 years old with my heart pounding, sweating profusely whilst my hands were white-knuckled around the steering wheel, I was pushed to my limits. The highway was three or four lanes wide and I think I was in one of the middle lanes whipping around the mountains – I dared not change lanes as there were too many cars going the same speed all around. When I thought I was about to mentally lose it, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a little sign nailed to a tree that simply said, “Trust Jesus.” That was the encouragement I needed to “stay calm and carry on.”
My personal life verse is Proverbs 3:5,6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your steps [or make your paths straight].” We all know that life isn’t easy to navigate through. I’ve always found when I rely upon my own thoughts and feelings, I become emotionally imbalanced and my ability to think clear becomes clouded by subjective feelings. Many times the imbalance comes from our previous trust experiences. Some of the thoughts and feelings we face are disillusionment or bewilderment, frustration, rejection, fear, worry, anxiety, panic, or anger, bitterness, vengefulness or pride, boastfulness, selfishness and impatience.
A few years ago, my family and I went through a very difficult and bewildering situation. On social media I wrote,
This morning is a different morning for us. God has begun a new thing for us that, though we do not quite perceive it, in faith we receive it. There are times when God causes his children to lay things down in order for Him to do the impossible through each of us. How wonderful it is to rest in the knowledge of God’s unfailing love as He intimately works everything out for our good. A life verse for us is, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart”, that takes love, continuing “and lean not on your own understanding”, that takes faith, continuing “in all your ways acknowledge Him”, that takes trust, continuing “He will make your paths straight”, that is a promise.
There are moments in life when you may be in the fast lane and unable to change lanes, and you may feel the limitations of being able to overcome the challenges, but I want to encourage you that the best thing you can do is trust that God sees you, knows you and is with you. You may not see what awaits you on the other side of the life mountain journey, the next chapter in your life book or what tomorrow morning may bring but be encouraged to trust Jesus. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” For me and my family, that night of uncertainty in 2003 became a morning of hope and a bright future. When your life seems to be “in the balance”, don’t let your limitations stop you from recognising your limitless God and putting your full trust in him.
Article written by Aaron Hornback, Founder and Director of HHN