Far from dreading turning 40, I was excited. After working from home for nearly two decades while raising a large family, this was going to be it. Finally! A decade just for me! I hoped to use it to fulfill my dream of publishing a book. To celebrate, I invited some of my closest friends to a dinner party.

We laughed. We ate. We talked about the challenges and joys of getting older. I sliced into the chocolate forest cake I’d bought from a gourmet bakery. Then I blew out my candles, wishing for ten uninterrupted years of productivity.

One month later, I discovered that I was pregnant: a gift I wasn’t expecting. Like my first pregnancy — after just two years of marriage – I was shocked. This was not the path I had planned.

Back then, I was working as a reporter for a small Maine newspaper while my husband, Dana, worked his way through college. I’d always wanted children. But so soon? I was just 23 years old, a baby myself by current standards. I marveled at the tiny life growing inside me yet fretted about how we would take care of a child. Over the following months, God miraculously provided for our needs – everything from hand-me-down baby gear to a house we could afford.

As Dana and I welcomed four more children, God continued providing – including during the whirlwind adoption of our daughter, Ruth, who had profound disabilities and came to our family from an orphanage in Uganda. But with the addition of each child, my time and energy shrank, limiting my ability to write.

So there I was, turning 40, with children ranging from 15 to 2, when I discovered that I was pregnant. Again.

I cried. For three months. Then things got really fun. Dana lost his job. After hearing the news, I wandered up the hill behind our house, fell to my knees beneath the soaring pines and cried out to God – overwhelmed by our circumstances and fearing the future.

Trouble comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s our own doing. Sometimes it’s not – an unplanned pregnancy, illness, financial difficulties, the challenges of getting older, anxiety, losing someone we love. Regardless of our situation, Scripture promises, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation,” Psalm 18:2 (NIV). The ‘horn of salvation’ is a reference to the architectural horns found on the four corners of the altar as part of early Hebrew worship. By grabbing hold of them, a petitioner was calling on God’s mercy. In the same way, when we are troubled, we can grab hold of God’s promises and cry out for his mercy and help.

I didn’t hear God’s answer right away. But slowly, as that new little life being began to grow and turn and kick inside me, God began to comfort my fearful, questioning heart. I could either trust God or trust my fears, I realized. I chose to trust God, believing that he who had met our needs in the past would continue to provide. And he did. The same month our son arrived, God provided Dana with a new job. Incredibly, as we adjusted to the new rhythms of our life, I still found time to write – and even published my first book. Although the challenges haven’t disappeared, God has deepened our trust through them by revealing his faithfulness.

And that baby we didn’t expect? As our older children head off to college and high school, our youngest, who is now 4, fills our family with love and wonder – wonder at the fragility of life, the unexpected twists and turns along the way, and the need to depend on God through them all. Sometimes the most unexpected gifts are the most miraculous.

Meadow Rue Merrill, the author of Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. Connect at www.meadowrue.com