The words to a song I was listening to this evening caught my attention.
“Be not afraid, I go before You always.
Come follow Me and I will give you rest.”
Those are powerful words. A strong reminder. A reminder that even in the midst of depression and pain, my God, my Lord, my Savior is hearing my pleas, my groanings too deep for words.
Today as Marina woke up from her nap, I just looked ahead at the evening and wondered how I possibly could get through until she went back to bed. I remember just barely whispering a prayer for help.
A very dear sister called me. She heard my pain yesterday, and again today. She cared. She answered by talking to me for well over an hour, while my daughter played around me, until I was at the point where I could continue on. Where I could finish getting my little girl bathed, read to, cuddled up, and laid down to sleep.
My daughter acted like an angel all night. She played sweetly around me (and on top of me). She giggled and laughed and clowned around making me laugh. She snuggled up sleepily after her bath, smelling of the soft lavender lotion I used on her. She read her favorite book with me. She settled in my arms, in her room while I prayed for her, for me, for our family and friends.
As I held Marina, rocked her and sang “Jesus loves me, this I know…” for the hundredth time, I felt that little two year old girl clinging to me, and trying to sing with me. I felt the weight of her in my arms. The thoughts came flooding in, and before I hardly had the chance to think them, they poured out as a prayer.
“Oh God, if this little, sweet smelling bundle is the only reason, the only thing I can come up with to get me through this night, let it be enough. If I can’t do it for anything else, let me do it for her, and keep going and keep fighting. Help me, Lord, give me the strength.”
It was simple. It was desperate. It was honest. It was heartfelt. It was breathed out in such a moment of darkness and agony. It was my soul’s cry. It was born out of an awful fear that I might not have the strength to press on.
And then later I heard the words to that song. Reminding me to not be afraid. Reminding me that He is walking ahead of me, showing me the way, leading me into green pastures, beside still waters. Reminding me that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Reminding me that I will find rest for my weary soul in Him.
There is a song we are singing in Wausau Lyric Choir in our spring concert, by Stephen Paulus. It is called the Pilgrims’ Hymn. I can barely sing it without crying. Listen to these words with your heart.
Even before we call on Your name
To ask You, O God,
When we seek for the words to glorify You,
You hear our prayer;
Unceasing love, O unceasing love,
Surpassing all we know,
Glory to the Father
And to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.
Even with darkness sealing us in,
We breathe Your name
And through all the days that follow so fast,
We trust in You;
Endless Your grace, O endless Your grace,
Beyond all mortal dream,
Both now and forever,
And unto ages and ages,
That second verse has come to mind as I look back on tonight. Even with the darkness sealing me in, I was able to breathe His name, and He heard my prayer, He cared enough to answer me. Not in the way I expected, but He answered me. He gave me a reason to go on a few more hours, another night, a little bit farther down the path. He gave me these words to write.
Maybe for someone who really needs to hear it. Maybe for you.
I pray that these words will be healing for someone else, besides myself as I write them. I pray that God will use these words and work His Spirit behind them in someone else’s life to bring hope. To bring even an ounce of courage to keep going through the darkness, the pain, the loneliness, the terror of not knowing if it will ever end, if there will ever be relief.
I am there too. I don’t know when or if it will end, but I have to trust in Him. There is nothing else to cling to. He is the solid rock, He has done it before, He can do it again. He has lifted me out of the slimy pit and set my feet upon the solid ground.
Even in the terror, He asks us to trust in Him.
One of my pastors gave me the image of daycare kids walking along all hanging onto that rope with the handles on it. All they have to do is hang on and follow where the rope goes. Then it gets dark in the building they are in. But all they have to do is keep hanging onto that rope, because the one who leads them knows exactly where they are, and is leading them to safety.
You can cry, you can weep, you can grieve and mourn. You can be terrified of the dark. But HANG ONTO THAT ROPE!!!