Have you ever looked at something before you and thought it way too scary to face - that fight or flight kicked in and there was no way you were sticking around? How do we trust God in the hard times, the times where things literally seem like they will drown us?
When I was young, I was swimming out in the ocean with my dad. Waves rolled in one by one and we coasted over them before they crested and broke crashing their way into the shore. We were having fun.
But suddenly, a huge wave rolled towards us, far bigger than the others. We could see it from a distance and my little eyes widened because I knew it would crash right onto us and there would be no time to swim into shore. But I sure was ready to try.
My dad quickly took my hand, looked at me and said, “We have to go under it.”
I shook my head violently, “I can’t. I won’t!” I panicked! I was terrified of being forced underwater and never coming up again.
Still, the wave loomed even taller and even closer.
He took me by the shoulders and said, “We have to go under. If we do, we will make it through just fine. I promise you.”
My heart pounded wildly but I nodded, trusting him, and turned to face the wave, its tallest peak beginning to curl over right above us.
“Take a deep breath and hold onto me. We’re going under together and I won’t let go.”
We dove beneath the surface the moment the wave reached us. I clung to my dad with all my might, feeling my chest explode for air in my panic. The water moved us ever so slightly and just when I thought we wouldn’t make it, we came up for air on the other side.
The wave had crashed just behind us and made its forceful way into shore. We’d survived and without so much as a tumble underwater. Diving under that monster wave, holding our breath and going under, that’s what kept us safe. My dad was right. Going under together saved us from a far worse fate.
When I heard the song Going Under, this is the exact story that came to mind. And it brought to my attention the times that I really thought God had abandoned me. When pain and suffering were so overwhelming, I felt as though I were drowning.
How do we trust a God who lets us sink below the biggest waves in our life? How do we trust God in the difficult times?
Going Under Together
The very first thing we must remember when we feel we are facing some of the biggest waves of our lives is that God is with us. He is that steady hand that we can hold onto and trust that He will bring us through.
In one of my most difficult seasons, I forgot this. I felt alone. I let go of His hand.
And yet I’m grateful every day that He still brought me through. He held on even when I did not.
God will be with us in every storm and every struggle. He may look at you and say exactly what my dad said and exactly what this song reminds us, “You have to go under but we’re going under together.”
The Better Way
We have to trust this and cling to Him because He will keep us safe - no matter how unsafe it may feel. He sees to the other side and knows that this is the better way.
As a young child, I would have tried my hardest to swim into shore at the sight of that big wave. I panicked and wanted nothing but to run. But my dad knew better. He understood so much more than I could at that moment. He knew that the only way to be safe was to go towards the wave and to dive into it.
This is such a perfect picture of how God works in our lives. We may be facing some of the hardest struggles and the biggest heartbreak, but God knows the better way. Even when it seems crazy, just as swimming towards the massive wave felt crazy to me.
We have to trust that His ways are higher and that He is working for our good. And in that, we can cling to Him to bring us through.
A Means of Growing Us
And finally, we can trust that He will grow us through these times. Going under may feel like you are drowning, but really, God is strengthening us, sanctifying us and growing us.
I heard a powerful story from someone that changed my view of suffering entirely. The girl speaking had gone through cancer as a child and was back in the hospital. She saw a little girl who had had bone cancer and was re-learning how to walk. In that hallway, the girl was screaming in pain. Each step caused her immense suffering. She wanted nothing but to stop and lay down.
But her father kneeled a few feet in front of her, with tears streaming down his face, telling her that she needed to keep walking. She needed to continue stepping forward in the pain. He knew that if she didn’t, she would be crippled forever. She would never walk again.
Sometimes we have such pain and brokenness in our lives that we are crippled by it. We cannot even walk in the face of it. But God calls us to step forward in suffering so that we can find true healing.
He knows that even though it is painful to face these things - that if we don't, we will be crippled by them forever.
And we can have full confidence that if we cling to His hand as we do step forward, that He will bring us through to the other side.
Are you facing waves of immense suffering or is God calling you to face some pain from your past or current situation that feels impossible? Cling to Him because as you do, you will come out on the other side free and healed. It won’t be easy, I know this, but it will be good.
Please feel free to share a prayer request in the comments below. Let me know if you are facing this and how I can pray for you.