“I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages” ― Charles H. Spurgeon
This has been (to put it mildly) a strange year. Do you feel it, too? I’m writing this from my front porch, where I do a significant amount of my writing, and I’m watching the sun set beyond the trees over the roof of my neighbor’s house. Dogs bark in the neighborhood, birds scurry this way and that across our freshly-mowed lawn, neighbors walk their dogs. The moment should feel lovely and light, especially when married with the end of the school year and beginning of summer… and yet.
With chatter (and arguments) about the COVID-19 pandemic, political rivals pitted against each other a very important election year, the economic crash and joblessness, and international wars and famine looming on every website and social media outlet, there’s enough to make any one person (namely me) want to retreat inside her house and hide until it’s all over. No thank you, 2020. That’s enough. Go to your room and think about what you’ve done.
And to compound things, hidden beneath the darkness of the headlines is the weight of grief tied to so many non-headline events. So many friends and family members are caught up in tidal waves of grief for a myriad of other things. Infertility. Cancer. The loss of loved ones. Marriage difficulties, Disabilities. Loneliness. Anxiety. Trauma. The day-to-day problems associated with with… life. And death.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of death and sadness. I literally mowed *around* a ladybug on the grass today simply because I couldn’t stand the thought of it getting killed by the mower. I’ve taught my son to rescue worms from hot sidewalks. I even paused while writing this post to go herd a baby bird out of the street just in case a car drove down it or a cat came along. I’ve had my fill of sadness for this year.
But, friend, there is hope.
While there has been a lot of loss in our circle over the past two years, there have also been so many blessings. Babies conceived after months of prayer and weeping. Babies born safely and healthily in hospitals locked down from COVID. Illnesses cured, such as my mother’s cancer, which is now in remission again. Big steps made in my writing career (stay tuned for more news on that). And even the less news-worthy but still as spectacular moments of laughter with friends and family. To-do items lists checked off. Game nights and family hikes. Kisses on the forehead of my sleeping child.
Even still, hanging in a fog over all that, is the strangeness of this era. Things are unsettled. The waves are churning, and sometimes it feels ignorant or even cruel to try to ignore them and focus on the good. My heart breaks for those – like us – dealing with the aftermath of illness and death. My heart breaks for those afflicted by evil words and intentions. My heart breaks for those suffering from injustice. My heart breaks for the lonely, the sad, the anxious. My heart even breaks for the fact that sometimes my blind heart does not feel broken enough for the brokenness of this world. (Did I lose you there?) But how much more then does God’s heart break? I cannot fathom. And how much more does God offer hope grounded in love? Again, I cannot fathom. I take comfort in knowing that Jesus is well acquainted with mortality. Our God knows what it is feel grief and loss, and He weeps far more than we do. And He calls to us from the shore, hand outstretched, offering hope. Does this mean we should we ignore the waves? No. But should we dwell only on the waves and let them drown us? Also no. Look up at the light. Cling to the Rock of Ages.
Without the waves, we would not appreciate the Rock, the comfort found in His safety, or the hope found in His promise of restoration. The Rock of Ages stands strong, no matter the size nor depth nor power of the waves. He is with his children, deeply acquainted with all the complicated feelings in our hearts, and His promises bring comfort. One day there will be no death, no illness, no loss. One day, we will experience unbridled joy – joy without guilt and without the shadows of grief. Cling to that promise. It is the glimmer that shines even when things seem blackest. It is the whisper of the still, quiet voice that you hear in your heart, even when the earth groans so loudly that all else seems drowned out. It is the Rock that keeps us from drowning in the crashing waves. I don’t pretend to understand the whys of this world, but I cling to my faith – to that shimmering light, that anchoring rock – and I pray you will, too.