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An Ocean of Unrest

When will you answer me?
When will I hear Your voice?
When will I see the light and feel the warmth?
I’ve been in the cold and dark, it’s starting to become a part of me.
When will You rescue me?

Do You see me?
Do You hear me?
Do You know me?

Those times.
Those times I’ve felt the warmth.
I’ve felt Your smile and hand in my hand.
Those times that taught me of Your goodness.
That light is stronger than this darkness.

You have seen me.
You have heard me.
You have known me.
You never change.

You see me.
You hear me.
You know me.
I trust you.

Your love is perfect.
Your love is unfailing.
I will celebrate You for you have celebrated me, rescuing me time and time again.

Father who faces me,
Father who stands with me, not against me—
I praise you.
You are a good, good Father.

—A paraphrase of Psalm 13 by Katie Long

“His voice beat like relentless waves against my shores where surrender meets distrust.” An Ocean of Unrest image

His voice beat like relentless waves against my shores where surrender meets distrust.

“…I AM a good Father.”

I knew these words were true, as God had countlessly reminded me of His goodness through many other times in my life, but I wasn’t convinced. Not this time. Things were different—peace masked by doubt, trust improbable.

My intern class was just getting back from a short weekend retreat to Toronto, Canada. There we had begun questioning and dreaming of the beauty of God in us and working through us as we began to wrestle with understanding the brokenness of the world around us. How could we show the world that God is good? Would people taste and see? We desperately imagined our place in making committed disciples who are madly in love with Christ.

Yet, as I sat in the backseat of an idling minivan waiting to cross the Canadian border, I struggled to blink back tears and remind myself that my God is for me. I continued suffering through a string of text messages from my dad detailing that in a routine doctor’s appointment, they had found that mom had breast cancer.

My soul was quickly awash in an ocean of unrest. I was being pulled out to sea and sinking by the minute. Gripped by fear, uncertainty, confusion, disappointment, and rage, these salty waters—tempestuous currents leading me into a storm I wasn’t ready to weather stung my freshly-exposed, gaping wounds.

My mother.

Why God? Why her…why now?

It has been very hard to not continually lift a finger towards God, as I fiercely tread to keep hope afloat in the pooling of present circumstances that face my mother and my family. More honestly, this bout of cancer has beaten up our family and has steamrolled my mom. It has been perversely impossible for her to find joy in the midst of numerous doctos’ appointments, furthermore, she continues to struggle with finding comfort as she begins unfamiliar dietary restrictions, has increasing doubt in unknown outcomes, and continues to experience severe anxiety and personal suffrage. She is overwhelmed.

“Her life is a small boat, quickly taking on water, pummeled and overpowered from all sides.” An Ocean of Unrest image

Her life is a small boat, quickly taking on water, pummeled and overpowered from all sides. The storm rages on and she is defeated. My heart has strained under the weight of walking with and loving her well, as I also encourage myself to see that God has all of this in His control. The question has quickly become, “God, how will I trust you…will I trust you? Help me find peace, help us find rest, remind my family of your goodness.”

(Pictured: My mother and I before her surgery this past Thursday morning. She is home now from the hospital recovering well.)

Throughout this time of compounding fear, I have been reminded of a man who at points in his life was also scared, misgave, and grieved. His name was David. David was a valorous warrior of great renown. He was a poet and musician, a righteous and effective king to Israel in battle and civil justice, and a man after God’s own heart.

David’s life reveals a story of great praise—a story of great celebration and rejoicing, but also one of great suffering. Cries of torment and inward agony lace his psalms, yet seemingly these expressions were sonorously transformed into rich pathways of praise and external acclaim.

I have always been gripped by David’s heart and how it beautifully modeled his heavenly Father’s, especially in the face of adversity. David’s heart was one of love…a sincere love for others trumped by the deepest of loves for his Father. And what has always astounded me is in the times David wrestled with doubt, David would earnestly remind himself of God’s goodness and infallible truth to bring his heart back towards a posture of praise.

Just as David pained, Christ, too, also suffered. He had to endure many challenges in life and in turn, gained both a greater understanding of the richness of his Father’s love as well as deliverance from the enemy. He quickly learned his Father was for him. I wonder if this is why one who has suffered and grieved at great lengths will in time, come to understand deeper and sustaining joys that can only be found in God and His Kingdom plan. That’s why Jesus spoke to those who mourn…to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be comforted, satisfied, and become joyfully nourished by God’s goodness. Joy in suffering was made perfect and complete in Jesus’ death. Jesus’ reverent and sacrificial offering of praise exalted a perfect Father in Who suffering does not exist and in Who suffering is overcome.

I have began finding great peace as I have approached God in sweet moments of worship the last couple of months, offering my uncertainty to Him as I dare trust Him more and more. I am challenging myself to have a heart more like David’s—a heart that exudes thankfulness, joyful praise, and celebration. I want my life to be one of suffered praise—a life of practiced celebration of my Father through times of calamity, especially in times of calamity, because my God is great, He is good, and He is also for me. I am learning that my my praise must especially precede healing.

If you are on the road to suffering, know that your Father loves you and wants to remind you of His goodness. Will you praise Him for Who He is? Will your praise also precede His healing?

P.S. Check out the song “Good, Good Father” written by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown! It’s a modern-day psalm (maybe something a lot like David could have written this day in age) that has helped me through my challenging season. If you have found yourself in a similar season, I pray that it may also help you in yours.