When Waves Knock You Down
Updated: Jan 3, 2018
I couldn’t breathe. The fear was so big it filled the place. Covered me. Hid from me the light of possibility. Limited my vision to the hospital room. The restlessness of my son as he tossed about in the bed. Constant intrusion from nurses taking vitals, administering medications, doing their job. The sharp boops and beeps of the monitors, jarring me awake every few minutes to remind me of the hard, thin cushion on the couch beneath me.
My mind battled waves of useless thoughts, eroding my precarious peace. Why did God let us land here again? When would we go home? Would we ever go home?
When I was a little girl, I remember being in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. I loved splashing in those salty waters, playing with my sister. Bouncing and bobbing on the waves, allowing them to carry me toward the shore. If you’ve ever spent any time in vast ocean waters, you’ll know that it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings. And when you’re a tiny person, a little over four feet, in deep enough water that you can’t touch the bottom—never ever turn your back on the waves.
I don’t know what I was thinking. Perhaps I was busy chasing my sister. Maybe I was just enjoying the fact that I was a big kid who could swim and not one of the babies by the shore hanging out with their parents. Whatever the reason, I wasn’t prepared when that giant wave hit me from behind. Pushed me tumbling end over end under the water until I couldn’t tell which way was up. All I could do was hold my breath as I fought to surface.
Sometimes life is like that. We can be walking along content with the pace, and suddenly, we’re engulfed by hardship. Your parents announce they’re getting divorced. A friend decides you’re no longer worth their time. Your employer downsizes, and you join the ranks of the formerly employed. An accident totals your car. Your husband admits to an affair, and doesn’t know if he even loves you anymore. You end up in the hospital watching a loved one struggle.
When that wave of calamity hits you, hold your breath. There are some things you need to keep out. Don’t drown trying to do life as usual. It’s okay to let go of the less important things to focus on the struggle that God has allowed in your life. His love for you was never based on your ability to perform. He loves you because He created you. Even in the middle of this present crisis, His grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9).
And don’t panic. Now is not the time to make life-altering decisions. When emotions are high, and the fear is crying aloud for your attention, it’s almost impossible to think clearly enough to plan intelligent next steps. Just don’t. Become aware of your surroundings. Do what is necessary in the moment. Be still, God himself will calm the waves (Psalm 107:29).
God will give you moments above the waters. And every time He brings you to the surface—breathe. During those times of unexpected peace, pray quiet thank yous. When you catch glimpses of His grace, ask for continued strength to keep swimming. If He reminds you of a pertinent truth in his word, anchor yourself to it. Breathe in His strength, His grace, His truth. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV).
Await His rescue. The Lord may not answer how we want Him to. The divorce may be finalized. The illness may result in death. It may take months to find a new job. God is not a genie responding to our every desire, but He promises to always work things out for the ultimate good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Even in the midst of your darkest moments, you are never alone. Our God is our rock, our fortress, our deliverer. No situation is too big for Him.
"Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. "He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him” (Psalm 91:14-15, NIV).
Hold your breath. Don’t panic. Breathe. Wait on the Lord.
Sometimes the hardships of life overwhelm us, but hang on. We have a God who loves us at our lowest, offers the peace of His presence in our struggles, and promises to come to our rescue.