In the first year of my firstborn’s life, I remember sitting in the rocking chair late at night, scrolling my phone while I fed him. I remember headlines of awful happenings in the Middle East. I specifically remember reading a post about ISIS beheading Christians who would not renounce Christ. I can still see that picture in my mind, a lineup of men with their heads and faces covered, their executioners standing behind them. I doubt I will ever forget it. I remember feeling crippled by anxiety and fear for the world my child would grow up in. That very possibly, in my lifetime, we would see such atrocities committed against Christians, but this time, perhaps, on the continent on which we live. I would sing and pray over that child, asking that God would spare him from persecution, that somehow my feeling of deep sorrow and premonition would be inaccurate. That it wouldn’t be the truth for his life.
I always sang all the verses to I Have Decided to Follow Jesus over my baby. As I sang, I prayed those words to Jesus. Asking again and again that no matter what, this boy would follow Jesus with all his heart and never stray–even if it meant death. As I sang, I sang the words over myself as well, praying that I would have the courage to stand when it was asked of me. When the time came to choose Jesus, regardless of pressure or those around me, I would stand. “Though none go with me, still I will follow, no turning back. The world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back.” Never have I felt the weight of those words the way I did on those nights, when the world was heavy and the darkness swam around me.
Never, that is, until lately.
Headline after headline blares horrors, tragedies, people losing it all–some people willingly giving their all for the lives of others–many of whom are ungrateful. Some for the sake of the gospel, some because it’s the right thing to do, some because a natural disaster has struck, some just because we live in a sin-ridden world that is broken. I find my heart just as heavy as it was in those first days of motherhood. Feeling isolated, feeling humbled that I am in a place in the world that isn’t yet in that type of crisis. Feeling the weight of it all–the hurt, the sorrow, of the world as well as the decisions and circumstances that face my family, in our own type of crisis.
I know that the world won’t get better. I know that the decisions that face me and face my children as they get older aren’t going to get easier or more black and white. People are going to be less happy with my choices the more I stand for truth and righteousness. Until Jesus returns, truth is going to be harder and harder to come by. I temper those thoughts with remembering that I can trust my God. I know that His word is true, and I can hold on with all I have to that.
Psalm 77 says:
“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old, the years long ago. I said, ‘Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.’ Then my spirit made a diligent search: ‘Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?’ Then I said, ‘ I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” (Emphasis mine)
What I see in this psalm is that I’m not alone in my human feelings, and I can’t pull myself up out of the mire of my mind, and honesty with God is imperative to my spiritual health. I can cry out to Him and He will hear me! While I can’t pull myself up by the bootstraps and carry on, He can. He can enable that change that will help me take my mind off of myself and turn it to Him. When I remember all He has done; when I meditate on His works, my mind is put to rest, and peace reigns in my soul.
The other lesson that I take from this psalm is that God’s way is through, not around. His way is through difficulty and the seemingly impossible so that we can learn to trust. My way never includes the choice to walk through deep waters. I like the warm shallows of familiarity. I don’t like the reminder that I. AM. OUT. OF. CONTROL. Of everything. I don’t like to hurt–emotionally or otherwise, but God’s way is always through the deep. He wants me to trust Him and praise Him for what He has already done, how He has already worked. He wants my heart right, not my life comfortable. He wants to lead me, and He can’t if I stay in the shallows. I don’t like the deep of fear, anxiety, depression, and hurt–but I like that I know Him better because of it. I don’t like not knowing, but I like the peace of trusting the unknown to an all knowing God.
I don’t know what this lifetime will hold. I don’t know what sickness will come next, or what a corrupt politician will do. I don’t know the next inevitable natural disaster, or what cruelty will come again across the headlines. I can’t keep my boys safe from this world. Only God can protect their souls, and I pray that they will hang onto Jesus with all they’ve got.
What I do know and hold tightly to, is the God who sees and hears, the God who answers me. I can rely on His steady character to be the same yesterday, today and for a thousand tomorrows. He’s proven Himself time and again to be faithful and true. It’s my own heart that is faithless and fickle. I continue to pray that I would be found faithful. “Though none go with me, still I will follow…” That my faith would stand in the face of hardship and persecution. “The world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back…” That my family would choose Jesus. No matter the distraction, no matter the trial, no matter the cost. I’d rather muddle through the deep with a trustworthy God, than frolic in the shallows without Him.
Laci Steed is a stay at home, homeschooling mom of two boys. She is passionate about motherhood, truth, and creating community around God’s Word. She serves in women’s ministry at her church and recently wrote her first booka Christmas devotional called Emmanuel: 25 Days of Anticipating Jesus. Laci enjoys doing house projects, reading, and finding ways to be creative in the chaos that is the little years of parenthood.