“When all I feel is darkness and everything in life feels hard, where are you?”.
I sat back, crossed my arms and thought to myself, “Yeah, seriously God! Where are you?!”.
Do you ever feel like that? The waves are rolling, the storm is unrelenting and the rain won’t stop down pouring? You feel like God has completely abandoned you. The ‘whys’ keep growing but the silence offers nothing. Why does everything seem so complicated and murky?
Life is always ebbing and flowing. Storms are rolling in and rolling out. Waves crashing and then clearing. Life is cyclical, seasonal and ever changing. I’ll be the first to admit I’m quick to push through and override feelings for the sake of forward movement. I don’t want to get stuck. I prefer the views from the top of the mountain rather than the valley.
The older I get the harder Wisconsin winters seem to feel. Usually I can rally myself out of any bad mood or day but I just kept falling short. Maybe its the winter season or a post holiday hangover but my headspace has been fuzzy at best lately. So there I sat, in the middle of my quiet time practically taunting God. I was quick to list all my frustrations and elaborate in great deal, for dramatic effect of course.
My train of thought kept rolling as I waited for God to respond to my question.
Not 15 seconds after I (finally) stopped my rant, the quietest, non judgmental, loving statement came to me.
“Becky, in those moments when you feel overwhelmed and alone and that I’m no where to be found…are you focused on the water or are you focused on me? Just because you’re not focused on me doesn’t mean I’m not there.”
The prompt, of course, reminded me of the story in the Bible of Peter walking on water. The disciples were out fishing all night. A storm had been over the water all night, the wind and the waves striking repeatedly and violently. It wasn’t like there were in a luxury cruise liner, it was a tiny fishing boat. Can you imagine how tired they were? Scared? Frustrated? I’m sure they didn’t catch many fish during the storm, and nothing bothers me quite like no results after great effort. Throw in no sleep and I’m one raging monster.
Jesus went out to them at dawn and the disciples were terrified. They thought Jesus was a ghost. But he immediately replied to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter spoke up and challenged Jesus. “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” Jesus said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. THAT is some serious courage. I wonder if I would have done the same thing? After a night of little sleep and no productivity…I can assure you my response would have carried a bit more attitude and hands on hips.
But when Peter saw the wind and raging waters, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
The moment Peter shifted his focus from Jesus to the violent waters he started to sink. Jesus never left Peter. The situation never changed but Peter’s perspective changed and that changed everything.
Are you in the middle of choppy water? If so, what are you focused on? It can be so easy to play the victim card and get lost in our sea of problems. But what we focus on, grows. If we have negative attitudes and outlooks and find ourselves focused in our downward spiral, we will only continue to flail in resentment.
But what if we shift our perspective? What if we focus on God’s presence in the middle of the storm? By continuing to look to God in the midst of our pain and suffering we will find rest, a companion, light and peace. It won’t remove the storm or erase the hurt but it will grow our hearts, shape our character and soften our attitude.
What we focus on grows so let’s be mindful of where we settle our focus in the storm.