Suffering, Healing, and Knowing Christ

Violent waves pummel my flimsy boat. I’m thrown to the floor and my face explodes with pain. Warm blood gushes from my nose and throbbing pain surges through my head. My brain power is now forced to tackle agony in combination with surviving the storm. Knees under my chin I cling to the legs that were starting to feel so strong. Legs now covered in blood as if their trembling and quaking were not humiliation enough.

Where are you God?! Wasn’t I just walking on water? Wasn’t it just yesterday you called me out and I stepped forward on new waters of faith?

Shrieking winds lend a hand in destruction, ripping off my tattered sail and whipping it frantically through the wind. That doesn’t represent my faith, does it? I cling with shredded fingernails to my jolting boat, trying not to drown.

Jesus! What were those instructions you gave me? Those words I wanted to remember when I’d experience again the trials of life. Keep my eyes on you and I’ll walk on water?

I strain to open my eyes, but driving rain restricts my vision. I see nothing but darkness.

You said You’d never leave me, but where are You now? Jesus!

Sea water floods my mouth as a wave crashes over me. I choke and cough and gasp for breath. My throat burns with the same pain in my face. Hot tears gush forth, forming a trio of salty fluid. Tears, salt water, and blood mingle together as the ingredients for Desperation I never thought I’d make again.

God, how am I supposed to be rescued if I can’t even open my mouth to call you? How can I pray for salvation when my every thought is consumed with throbbing pain and imminent threat? I hate the taste of Desperation and how have I found myself here again after being freed from depression less than a year ago?

And then, there’s a small break in the storm.

How have I found myself here? I try to collect my thoughts. Figure out what led up to this point and make sense of the terrifying turn of events.

Lighting strikes dangerously close and thunder shakes me to the core. The storm rages on. Yet hope is not completely dead. I remember how You came through for me before and a tiny thread of faith still flies on my mast. I try to stay focused. I can’t see You, Savior, but I can read Your Word. I push through fear and pain and saturate my mind in Scripture.

Another break.

Okay, yes God, I see where my sin could have led to some of this. Yes! I repent!

I duck down as a wave crashes over me. I’m taking in water faster than I can bail it out, but at least it doesn’t catch me off guard and smack me in the face. The bleeding is slowing down and the pain in my head lessens. A little more ground is freed mentally to process what’s going on.

What was the last big thing I asked for?

I backtrack through my thought processes and prayers over the past 2 months.

I wanted to know You more!

I told You I was holding nothing back. I begged you to take my heart and make it all Yours. I wanted to be strong with Your strength. But I knew there was one last layer of brokenness I hadn’t yet addressed. Hadn’t known how to uproot. Things standing between me and complete surrender to You.

Thunder is growing distant, though the storm lingers. It’s still raining, but I can open my eyes. And then I realize You’re right here with me. Perfect Love casts out fear and though my situation has only improved slightly, I’m no longer afraid!

Jesus, I feel you! I cling to You!

 And then Your words come flooding back to me…

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (I Pet. 4:12-13)
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Pet. 5:10)
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Rom. 5:3-4)
I can only know you deeply through suffering!
When I wanted to know You more, I’d been looking for extravagant blessings and warm assurances of love. I know that’s not all of what life is about, but in my quest to know You, Lord, that’s what I was looking for as the last step to healing.
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,” (Phil. 3:10).
And in exactly your perfect timing, You tell my storm, “Peace! Be still.”
Glassy waters gently rock my boat. It’s the morning after the tempest and I’m flooded with clarity as to why You allowed this. Your Spirit guides me on the path to healing those deepest hurts. You point out areas I was unaware were preventing me from drawing closer to You and ask me to surrender them. You draw me gently to my knees in obedience. Weak knees, but spotless and free from shame. It hurts, it’s not easy, and I don’t understand why You allowed this particular storm. But as I look up to You, with a clean, peaceful face, I cannot escape the awareness that I am held and led by a Sovereign God and loving Father who absolutely has my best in mind.