i'll go where you will lead me, lord

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. -Psalm 27:4

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Delivered from the Pit

Lord, if it is Your will, let this work encourage the saints. If nothing I say is to bear any fruit, let Your Word alone shine through.

… so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11

For much too long, I have tried to control my life. Then, late one night, I tried to end it.
What drove me down this path of destruction? How did I end up on the street, my mind blank and my heart numb?

Yet God has restored me onto the path of righteousness, through the counsel of others, through Scripture, through worship, and ultimately through His Son.

This is how God humbled me. This is how God delivered me from the Pit.

The Fear of Losing Control

Day in and day out, I devise my plan. I say to myself, I feel this way, and so I must act. If I do not, I will surely lose the things I treasure most: the attention, acceptance, and approval of man.

I make one last attempt to keep my treasure, but this time my energy is spent. My mind is cloudy, my eyes are glazed over. I get up and begin to run.

I hear voices but cannot make them out. I see headlights but cannot move.

Unharmed, I sit on the side of the road. I am a shell – so empty yet so contaminated with sin. Unable to start over, yet unable to go to Heaven…

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:12

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Luke 9:24

The Fear of Abandonment

I wake up in a start to my alarm at 7:30am. My heart is pounding. I had just woken up from a nightmare – no, several nightmares. What were they? Several faces, angry faces…
For a split second, I am calm again, remembering that I am safe in my bed. Then everything rushes back to me.

Last night – last night. I was lost last night. I had hoped to be found in the morning, I had hoped that the memory of the dark sky and wandering people would disappear into the air by morning.

Surely I have pushed God away for the last time.

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.”

Isaiah 43:1-4

The Gospel I proclaim – does it not apply to me as well? Even now, in the deepest of sorrows over my sin, I have peace with God. Did not Christ see this very moment as he suffered on the cross? And did not Christ say of this very sin which I deserve Hell for, “It is finished”?

He has redeemed me, He has called me by name, I am His. I am precious in His eyes, and honored, and He loves me.

The Fear of Sleep

I am home, yet I have no home. I lay on my childhood bed, eyes wide open. I do not know what lays on the other side… My conscience accuses me in the day, my subconscious accuses me in the night. One thought comes to mind before I drift into darkness: Who follows me into my sleep?

If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.

Proverbs 3:24-26

Sun of my soul, Thou Savior dear,
There is not night if Thou be near.
O, may no earthborne cloud arise,
To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes.

Abide with me from morn’ till eve,
For without Thee I cannot live.
Abide with me when night is nigh,
For without Thee I dare not die.

John Keble (1792–1866)

The Lord guards me in the world where I cannot fight. He sustains me as I sleep. If I wake, it is because the Lord has deemed it good for me to live another day. And if I die, it is because he has deemed it good for my battle with sin to be over.

The Love of Myself

I confess everything. I am laid bare before my dear friend. I cannot look her in the eye. Yet her heart breaks for me. She looks at me with compassion. “Pride is at the heart of this,” she says. “You only try to end your life if you believe you have the right to do so.”

She is right. And what a sweet relief that she is! I needed to be brought low in order that I might see how I have failed my Savior, in order that I might cling to him once again.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

Christ was humbled to the point of death. He placed his life in the hands of the Father in order to reconcile me to Him. Yet how did I respond? I tried to wrestle my life out of His hands. It was not humility that led me to death, but death that led me to humility.

I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.

Isaiah 44:6

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Job 42:5-6

Have mercy on me, God. Let me not forget the day You delivered me from the Pit.

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I sit in this room, not the next.

You’ve prepared this room for me,

I need not wonder who I’ll find next door.

The End of a Season

I came to the bittersweet end of a few things today… I had my very last counseling session – something that was unexpected, yet very timely. I also wrote in the very last page of both my sermon notebook and my journal. I should be studying for a midterm at the moment, but I found it much more pressing to share with you all that God has done for me. Here are some of the most valuable lessons I have gathered from the sermons I’ve heard, from the prayers I’ve prayed, and from the counseling I’ve received:

Highlights from Sermons (since September 2017)

  • Our response to trials isn’t what saves us, but Christ alone.
  • Good leadership is leading with love. Leading with love is hoping the best so that those who follow you are built up and encouraged.
  • Forgive relentlessly.
  • There is no greater, no more intimate bond than to be in Christ.
  • We are either slaves to sin, or slaves to Christ.
  • Woe is me, for I am undone and my lips are unclean!
  • We are the adopted sons and daughters of God.
  • The fact that we even have a conscience is a sign of God’s mercy.
  • We are all hypocrites. We may boast in nothing but the cross.
  • In trials, we are to have an attitude of joy.
  • There is such a thing as incorrect worship.
  • Live with a worshipful attitude.
  • Death shall not do us part (favorite sermon of the year – Abner Chou on Hosea 13:14, June 9, 2018)
  • Sin followed one trespass, salvation followed many
  • Speak the truth, and speak the truth in love
  • True peace, though interrupted by doubt, cannot be shaken

Self-Reflections from Journaling (since July 2017)

  • I have replaced complaining with thankfulness and praise
  • I have looked less and less to my own devices to conquer sin, and instead looked to Christ for strength and humility
  • My tendency to be anxious has nearly disappeared in most areas of my life, being replaced by an inexplicable peace in God
  • I have gone from being stubborn and mistrusting of the Word to being fully dependent on the truth for guidance
  • My desperate pleas for peace have been answered time and time again
  • Every anxiety of mine has been put to shame, leading me to repentance
  • I have gotten into a habit of repenting often and keeping short accounts with God
  • My fear of what others think of me is slowly being replaced by a confidence in the peace I have with God
  • My jealousy of those around me who share similar talents has been replaced with a joy that they have something in common with me, and that God has given us gifts at all
  • I have gone from being too afraid and selfish to care for younger girls to loving them and seeking to be their friend because I see how the Savior cares for me through the older women in my life
  • Jesus is my treasure

Lessons from Counseling (since May 2018)

  • The Word of God is truly the only thing that can counsel and restore one’s soul
  • When I feel depressed, I must remember God’s truth that He will restore my joy
  • Our decisions either please the flesh or please God. Pleasing the flesh always leads to death and destruction; pleasing God always leads to life. Pleasing the flesh feels easy but gets harder; pleasing God feels hard but gets easier.
  • His yoke is easy, his burden is light. “It’s not hard to do what’s right when are walking in the Father’s light!”
  • can be content in all circumstances through Christ who strengthens me.
  • The things we become anxious about ultimately end in death. Bad grades? No job. No job? No money. No money? No food. No food? Death. But God has said that He will provide our needs – “what we shall eat or drink or wear” (Matthew 6:31). Therefore, every anxiety is silenced in light of God’s sovereign power and care for His people.
  • Our emotions either glorify ourselves or glorify God. It is possible to be angry and still please God, if it is a righteous anger.
  • The truth does not change even when I doubt.
  • Jealousy originates with pride. The only way to extinguish pride is to learn humility by the ultimate example of Christ.
  • Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
  • When I am diligent to study the Scripture and fight sin, God can better use me to counsel others to do the same.

 

 

For When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong

It is almost 3am and I absolutely should be sleeping but I feel this must be said.

These past two years have been a battle for me – to understand why I am a Christian, to understand on what or whom my salvation depends on even when my faith seems to falter. I have allowed criticism from fellow believers about my life choices to breed bitter tears and desperate questions deep within me… Why do they seem more godly than me? Why am I the only one struggling with depression, seeing a biblical counselor? Do I not trust God enough? Am I even saved?

Philippians 4:6, (a verse that would not be so drilled into my head if it were not for biblical counseling!), tells me to not be anxious about anything, but to pray about everything and present my concerns to God. So I prayed about this fear of being lesser than other believers and of having seemingly weaker faith. And God was faithful to answer.

My sister and I have been studying the Old Testament book of Daniel this summer. Today’s passage told the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace when they refused to worship the Babylonian gods and the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar. When King Neb looked into the furnace, he saw four men – the three he cast in, and “one like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25). All were completely untouched and unharmed by the fire. There was no doubt, even in the eyes of King Neb, that their God was the only God who could do the impossible.

I was then reminded of a sermon I once heard from a young youth pastor years ago. He pointed out that God’s miracles never left room for doubt. When Jesus calmed the storm, the wind and the waves stopped immediately. When Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead, Lazarus had already been dead for 3 days…(also he stank). When Peter and John healed a lame man in Christ’s name, the man didn’t struggle upward until he could walk…he leapt to his feet as he praised God. Yet Jesus himself, the Son of God who shares in all of God’s divine attributes, did not seem powerful or impressive…especially to those who expected a great and powerful king to overthrow Roman rule. What a paradox – that Jesus Christ “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8), yet achieved the greatest miracle of all time.

Sometimes I am extremely saddened that the Gospel doesn’t seem to pierce my heart or bring me to tears more often like it did this evening. I am tempted to think, I must not be a Christian if the Gospel doesn’t convict me every second of every hour of every day. But God has taught me again and again that the power of the Gospel does not depend on the constancy of my passion for Christ – it is solely rooted in the power of God which will never fade, never dim, never be put out. Therefore I can boldly say that if I have a weaker faith than my neighbor, I do not have to be discouraged. Instead, I can rejoice because Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness. Indeed, like Paul, I can “boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” And yes, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10-12).

Why I Need Christ

Lord,

I still do not understand. The truth that grips me and pulls at me when I just begin to experience joy is something I haven’t yet been freed from. It is the truth, how can I escape it? Joy, even joy in Christ, seems to fade in and out of my life. How can I be secure in anything if everything changes? You say that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Why can’t I be more like Him?

As a child I was more fickle than I am now. I saw a child on the bus today, and he began to cry for seemingly no reason, then he stopped as if nothing had happened. I must have done the same, crying over the most trivial things, begging for things that were clearly not good for me. Still now I feel fickle, like a child whose mood can turn in an instant. Yet I see that it is not truly so – I am no longer a child.

I no longer cry over spilled cereal, no longer read picture books and draw my father with a single horizontal line for his hair. Sending birthday invitations to all my friends is no longer my favorite event of the year.

So am I strong, unmoved by changing circumstances, free from emotion? Certainly not. I feel emotions even more deeply, it seems. Hurts hurt more than ever. But – the defining evidence of Christ maturing me is that as I realize more and more of my weaknesses, I also see more and more His sufficiency.

I do not feel much stronger, better, or smarter than a child. What once was spilled cereal has been replaced by equally trivial troubles, at least in the grand scheme of things. I still cry often, I am still extremely sensitive and selfish. And even if I imagine myself 50 years from now, I think I will still be this child whom I’ve always been. But the ironic, comforting truth is that as I grow older, I will also increase in childlike faith…and that is why I can rejoice in trusting Christ.

To Store Up In My Heart

Dear friends,

The following is an open letter to those who find the time to read it. It is not perfectly composed. Most of it is my thoughts being spilled out without a filter. But these thoughts are coming from the raw emotions I have in response to the amazing things I have seen God do this day.

Today was a day full of things to remember… things I am still processing. I am unable to collect my thoughts and emotions, which are currently a combination of satisfaction, gratitude, and awe. I think of Mary’s response to the scene at Jesus’ birth, shepherds and complete strangers coming from afar to see the newborn Messiah. She “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart,” according to Luke 2:19. That’s exactly the state of my heart at the moment. So where do I even begin to tell you what great things God has done in my life, leading up to today? It seems like so much has happened since we last spoke. Indeed, so much has. I feel like I’m a completely different person than I was during the summer…even just yesterday’s words seem so far from me. I guess this is what happens when God works in my life. There is never a season where He is not growing me. There is never a time where He is not faithful to discipline, comfort, mature, strengthen, and love me. Truly, every day is a new day. Truly, every day, He is worthy of praise.

I have been dating a young man named Austin for almost three months now. We met under very special circumstances, circumstances born out of very unique trials in our respective lives that ultimately brought us together in a way only God could have orchestrated. In fact, there was seemingly no reason for us to meet otherwise. He had just graduated from UCLA, already working successfully for the NFL, and had moved on to the young adult ministry at church. Meanwhile I was just starting my second year of college, with a slightly unrealistic view of college based on nostalgic memories of freshman year, zero cooking skills, and way too many meal swipes. From the surface, it seems that we should never have crossed paths… but, he had become a Christian about half a year prior to our first conversation. And one day, recovering from surgery in NorCal and reading my last blog post about depending wholly on God through seemingly unbearable trials, he messaged me (yes, slid into my DM’s) to tell me how encouraged he was to know that someone else also understood the pain of trials and the importance of relying on God alone. This is what brought us together, and this is the beauty of joining God’s family – fellowship that would otherwise be impossible or illogical between two people suddenly becomes rich, sweet, and grounded in something (or someone) higher than the two of you combined.

And that was just the start. Soon after that initial message, we continued to talk….and talk…and talk…about the innumerable things we had in common. Our mothers were both raised in Catholic homes. Our fathers are both unreligious. We both play tennis. We both love music and art (he was a design major and I’m a music major – I mean come ON that’s a pretty darn cool combination). We both love cold weather and Christmas. We love the same movies, our family values are on the same page. Things like that. 🙂 But through all of the personality traits and hobbies we share, still the glue that has held us together is the common love we have for Christ and the inexhaustible Word of God. I’ll never forget what he said to me one night on the phone: “We’d never get bored of talking to each other. Like, one of us could open the Bible and point at something and be like, ‘What do you think of that?’ And it would be heretical to not want to say anything.” How right he was.

But our growing interest in each other conflicted with my decision to refrain from dating for a year. So through hours and hours of prayer alone in my building’s garden, I struggled with this question: “Lord, is my desire to date a selfish desire?” I knew in my heart that I wanted to honor the Lord whether I dated Austin or not. But was dating going to be too much of a distraction from that goal? I became ashamed to admit how much I liked Austin. I felt judged for wanting to date and for wanting to get married eventually because I felt weak comparing to other sisters in Christ who were single. In the end, however, God pointed me towards 1 Timothy 4:1-4:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

I then realized, marriage is a gift from God – not something to be ashamed of. I knew that I had gone to God in prayer, asking that He guide me in my decision-making with His wisdom rather than letting me be blinded by my own desires. I knew that Austin was striving to honor God through his actions as well, waiting to date until God revealed to Him the right person and the right timing. And so, seeking additional counsel from multiple disciplers and my very wise parents, I decided to trust God with the outcome and to cease my agonizing and fear of judgment. Later that week, Austin drove to my parents’ house, first seeking their wisdom and opinions on our relationship, then asking for permission to date me. And to my pleasant surprise, my parents were happy to say yes.

Since then, God has indeed been faithful to grow the two of us. Austin was baptized today. He shared his testimony, one that I will never grow tired of hearing. And for me, the most amazing part of the whole night besides the already beautiful baptism, is that my unbelieving father not only agreed to attend church with us for the first time in so long… he also brought his video camera to film Austin’s baptism.

If you know my dad, you know that video camera means a lot.

In the past, I’ve associated my dad and his trusty video camera with piano recitals, graduations, and family road trips. Yet here he was, sitting as close as he could to the baptismal, filming my boyfriend (whom he had only really met a couple months ago) getting baptized in church… as if Austin were his own son whom he took personal pride in. It was a bittersweet thing… I was amazed to see how my dad had opened up to this boy, and consequently to our faith. At the same time, I cannot shake the fact that he has not yet come to full repentance and trust in Jesus Christ. I know true fellowship that is rooted in Christ cannot come to be unless my dad completely accepts the Gospel.

Yet as I ponder all these things in my heart, I am overcome with hopefulness and thankfulness to God, my Heavenly Father and the one who has orchestrated every single second of my life. I pray with so much hope for my father! Yes, Austin entering my life has turned the tide for my family’s spiritual life. For the first time, we pray at the dinner table as a family and discuss the sermons we have heard and the great things we have witnessed God doing in our lives. But I know that ultimately, all of this… this mere glimpse of Heaven… would not be possible apart from the God who created us and sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for us.

Thank you, God. How you love us!

All I can do

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -Corinthians 12:9-11

All I can do is let go. If I am rightfully accused of sin, I can only repent and seek to be made right with You. If I am wronged by others, I can only ask You to help me forgive. It is my desire to see justice carried out that keeps me dwelling on my feelings of hurt and of being wrongfully judged by others.

It’s agonizing, God, it really is…how I long to see justice, and to see Your name be glorified… yet what good would it be if I strived to achieve this through my own means? It pains me to see my weakness in fighting sin, but even greater still is the pain of seeing my inability to stand up to my accusers when I know I am right before You.

Lord, help me find the solution to this divide between pleasing You and honoring my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ… I only desire to please You, yet even in my greatest efforts to do so, others doubt me. God, help me be gracious towards imperfect messengers, me being one of them… help me test everything, yet put weight on nothing but Your Word…

My conscience is clear. I am right before God. All I can do is let go.

From Everlasting to Everlasting – Thoughts on Psalm 90.

Psalm 90. From Everlasting to Everlasting.

A Prayer of Moses, the Man of God.

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. 5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: 6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. 8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. 9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. 13 Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. 17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

We are so temporary – like dust (v. 3), like a dream (v.5), like grass (v. 5-6). Yet God is eternal, our sanctuary, reigning from everlasting to everlasting. He is beyond what we think we know. He transcends nature, time, and human understanding (v. 2).  In His sovereignty He can make us come and go however He pleases (v. 3-8).

We cannot hide from God even our most deeply hidden sins… God, in all His glory and holiness, is the mirror in which we see our uncleanliness (v. 8). Our lives are vanity, passing away quickly, filled with toil and trouble, and ending as quickly and pitifully as they began (v. 9-10).

How then are we spending these fleeting moments on Earth? Are we numbering our days, acknowledging the fact that God created us and gave us this life for a specific purpose – to know Him, worship Him, and glorify Him? Do we humbly receive and apply His wisdom, which is to focus on His sovereignty and salvation (v. 12)?

Recognizing the ephemeral and transitory nature of our lives, Moses prays that God would show us favor. We are mere servants, only capable of begging for God’s mercy and pity (v. 13). Only by His steadfast love can we find joy (v. 14). Only by His grace can our works produce fruit, and our lives have value and significance (v. 17).

God, I am but a mere servant, clothed with rags and unable to show my unclean face in Your courts. I deserve nothing – not even my first breath…no, not even the first thought You had to create me. Yet You, in Your grace and mercy, delight in me. You save me from the punishment I deserve in all my sinful filth. What a wonderful and lovely and amazing Gospel You offer to all mankind…I love you, Lord. I praise You, for Your works are beyond what I can even begin to comprehend, yet they shake me to the core and bring me to my unworthy knees.

 

The Gift

He awakes me from my slumber and sits by my bed as I slowly open my eyes, blinking away tears that had remained from the night before. I peer around the bedroom, still cherishing the pocket of warmth sustained between my blanket and my body. My eyes meet His gentle gaze.

“My child,” He whispers, “Come.”

The chill of the morning air causes me to hesitate. Yet He says again, “Come.”

I know I have stayed here for much too long. I rise and the blanket falls away, but His steady, warm hand takes mine and all else is forgotten. He leads me out the door. Our feet pad softly along the carpet down the hallway.

He lets me wonder what is to come until I see it sitting there on the living room floor. It is everything. It is unreal. It is more than I have ever dared to ask for.

I take one step towards it, then quickly look back at Him. He smiles warmly … tears fill my eyes, tears of unbelief.

“Lord, for me?” I whisper. I can barely speak, I can barely breathe.

“Go on,” He says, nodding towards it. I barely touch it with my fingertips before I start to sob.

“Lord, why me? I did nothing to deserve this.”

He laughs softly.

“Because, my child, I love you.”

THE END

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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.