Words like crushing, dying, despair, utter darkness are good words to describe walking through the valley of the Shadow of Death but are anemic when you have never experienced them, and quite honestly, I hope you never have to. But the reality is, some of us have and for some of us this may be our present reality. We may be living in the thick of this right now.
It may just be the chronic something going on in our lives. We may be doing all the right things, have some great supports, but to get up and carry on is a frequent, deliberate choice. We may have prayed, fasted and cried out to God and for whatever reason we have not been delivered in the way we had hoped. I want to assure you that God has not abandoned you. God is not punishing or rejecting you. In fact, scripture tells us that God may just be closer to you than those who seem to have life all figured out. It seems that God is particularly close to the poor, the weak, the crushed, those who mourn and the broken hearted. The assurance that we are not alone and that God is so very present, even when it seems as if He is so far away. It is in this we can hold on, and it can keep us from slipping and losing ourselves in the inner cauldron of despair and hopelessness. The loving God is very present in the muck and the mire that life can sometimes be.
This is the grace to endure. The grace that calls us deeper into the expanse of the love of God that sustains us in the storm. It is here that I think of Jesus walking on the water or calming the storm. The sea was thought to be a place of evil in ancient times. The place of demons and monsters and death – poignant metaphors for all that we may experience with catastrophic loss, depression, anxiety, fear and acute illness.
“Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.” – Jesus (Mt. 14:27)
In the first instances, Jesus walking on the water is a powerful picture of Jesus showing His dominion over these elements. It is the declaration of God over these situations. There is no storm, no evil, no demon, no situation or force that has not been overcome in Christ.
Jesus calming the storm is another powerful picture of God intervening in the storm, and an encouraging reminder that yes, storms happen – and fierce storms at that – but the God-who-loves is with us and is our safe place in and through the storm. The grace to endure is the steadfast presence of God regardless of the ferocity of the storms we are in. There is nothing in the heaven or below, created or made, things present or to come that can ever separate us from the love of God because of the way Jesus holds us (Romans 8:38-39).
It is nothing short of this storm calming, water walking, element overcoming, death conquering, ferocious, contending love of God that is contained within this short sentence that Paul heard from God:
My Grace is Sufficient for you, for My power is full-on, My unimaginable strength is made perfect when you are weak.
I understand that perhaps you may not feel like you are experiencing this in your life right now. That’s okay. Knowing is much bigger than our feelings, and to be honest, sometimes it may be knowing in spite of how we may feel at this point in time. Our feelings are important but not always the final arbiter of what is true. All this to say; be kind and gentle with yourself. Make a deliberate and conscious choice to look for the ways God is with you. Please know you are not alone.
If may be helpful visiting a qualified therapist, why not make that call right now? Your pastor or physician will be able to help you find a one, as well as local support groups.