“In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God.
He answered me.
From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’
You heard my cry.
You threw me into ocean’s depths,
into a watery grave,
With ocean waves, ocean breakers
crashing over me.
I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away,
thrown out, out of your sight.
I’ll never again lay eyes
on your Holy Temple.’
Ocean gripped me by the throat.
The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight.
My head was all tangled in seaweed
at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root.
I was as far down as a body can go,
and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever—
Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive,
O God, my God!
When my life was slipping away,
I remembered God,
And my prayer got through to you,
made it all the way to your Holy Temple.
Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds,
walk away from their only true love.
But I’m worshiping you, God,
calling out in thanksgiving!
And I’ll do what I promised I’d do!
Salvation belongs to God!”
I found myself praying a similar prayer on the way home about a week ago. It was my first day back after Christmas. The night before I had tossed and turned with troubling dreams. I felt as I was standing of the rim of an immediate future that could change on a dime. Always, I feel as though I’m waiting for a shoe to drop. My parents are finally showing their age. And there is work…….the stress level lately has gone up exponentially. And that won’t change anytime soon.
I will face some hard sorrows in the next 10 years. My parents will die. Many of you have already lost yours. There has never been a time in my life when they weren’t there. I can’t imagine not being able to call, to hear their voices. And my cats are old, they too will die. And I am trying to do two more years at my company, but what then? I have been locked in this comfort zone so long it will be very hard to let it go, even as stressful as it is.
And there is another big thing which I won’t mention here but which is also a source of great anxiety. It will have to be dealt with unless the Lord intervenes miraculously.
That night, at that intersection, the cloak of despair closed around me. I was tossed into my own depths, and my prayer was somewhat similar to that of Jonah’s. Sometimes you have to be willing to look past the end of despair to realize that God waits there too. You have to be bold enough and desperate enough to ask a scary question. That night I answered it out loud in the form of a prayer. Sometimes you need to shout it down.
What’s the worse that could happen?
“I don’t know what my life will look like 10 or 20 years from now God, but I know one thing. I don’t have to worry about it, because You will still be there. You have promised to never leave me or forsake me, and that is one thing I can count on because you never break Your promises. Even if I lost everyone I care about at once, left totally alone, I would still have you, and you are all I need. Hard as it would be, I can imagine living without everyone I hold dear, because I know they would be safe with You. But I could never live without You. Thank you, God for loving me. For promising to never leave me, I love You God.”
I was wrapped in a cloak of despair and sadness that night, on the road home. And if that were the end of the story I wouldn’t bother to write about it. You all know what darkness feels like, I don’t have to elaborate, we’ve all felt the chill of its shadow passing over our lives.
But when you have God in your life, you have to know that beyond despair, hope waits in the wings.
Sometimes life feels like a battle you have to gird yourself for every day and it’s hard to remember it’s God’s fight. Not yours.
This morning I felt like my words had finally run dry. But then I opened Sarah Young’s wonderful “Jesus Calling” and I found just what I needed to hear today. For those of you familiar with it, go to today’s reading. For those unfamiliar with it, I heartily recommend you run out and buy it. Now.
She always ends with Scripture readings for the day. Once again, God’s word spoke life from Psalm 46. It’s what I leave you with today, friends. Just maybe, like me, you need to hear it too:
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!
A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. s voice thunders, and the earth melts!
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israelis our fortress. Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
See how he brings destruction upon the world. He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire. ”
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.