I saw this beautiful painting called The Hand of God by Yongsung Kim a few days ago. In my life, I have seen several paintings of Jesus. He never looks exactly the same from one painting to the next, which has made me skeptical to focus too much on these man-made images of Him. Yet this painting communicated something to me beyond the usual kind smile and warm eyes on Jesus’ face. This was a representation of the Savior I personally know Jesus to be.
Just a week ago, my life was sinking fast. I was saying goodbye to a relationship that I had invested much hope in, realizing fast that God had other plans for me. I was struck with the reality of my father’s unbelief when I received the news that he had been hit by a car. And I had immensely lost trust in a friend who was not strong enough to resist temptation, resulting in a painful break in our friendship and a huge blow to my sense of self-worth.
Nothing and no one truly comforted me in that time. There was too much noise to distinguish love from lies, the people who cared for me from the ones who did not understand my suffering. My Bible, which I usually opened every morning to spend time with my Father, sat silently on my bedroom floor. I stared at it and found no courage to pick it up for days.
I was at my wit’s end when I fell to my knees and forced myself to flip to a random page. I had always been skeptical of this too – I had long since stopped believing that turning to a random page of the Bible would be of any miraculous use. Yet the first words I read were, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21).
Of course I would be led to Job. The man suffered so much, and lost everything but his own life in such a short amount of time. But it was not the idea that someone else had suffered much more than I that comforted me. What comforted me was Job’s response to the Lord… The Lord gives. He also takes away. And through all of that, His name is still to be blessed. Because of this wise response and deep understanding of God’s sovereignty, Job was seen as righteous in God’s eyes.
I at once understood that I was more like Job than I thought. I knew in my heart that I did not once blame God for what had happened, for all that I had lost. I knew I had faith that God would pull me through these trials, even when I could not hear His voice. The one question I asked him was not “Will you comfort me?” I only asked, “When?” And He was not slow to bring comfort. So I praised Him for fulfilling His promise and for instilling that promise in me in the first place. I could not have withstood those traumatic few days if I did not have this truth to cling to: the Lord is my helper, I shall not fear. What can man do to me?
Then a day or two later, I came across this painting. Right away, I thought of Peter when he eagerly joined Jesus and walked on water with Him for a brief moment. Scripture says, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'” (Matthew 14:30-31).
My own skepticism was not so different from Peter’s fear. Yes, I believed God would lift me out of trials and comfort me. But if I had been so sure of this from the start, then why did I despair at all? This flaw in my faith troubled me greatly. How could I say I wholly put my trust in Christ as my Lord and Savior if I sank so quickly?
Sometimes I still look away from Him. My eyes are drawn to the waves below me that relentlessly threaten to pull me underneath the current. I catch myself looking back at the sinking boat I once found comfort in. And every single time I take my eyes off of Him, I begin to sink, fears rising all around me. I almost lose sight of Him, it’s too late to catch a breath and cry out for help. Then I see His hand break through the surface. I think He will be angry, disappointed in me for forgetting who He is. But past His extended hand, I see Him smile at me.
That is the point, I realize, of needing a Savior. God knew I would be afraid. He knew I would let my eyes wander from His steady gaze, giving in to fear and doubt. But He also knew I could not pull myself out of my own sin. So when trials come, I may stumble and start to drown in fear…but because of His grace, Christ will always be there to extend His hand and lift me up.