“It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.”
What a gem of a verse is found in John 6:17!
This relatable verse is found in an identifiable situation. Jesus had told his disciples to get into a boat (Matthew 14:22), and they set off obediently to their next location. And then things got dark. And stormy. And dangerous. And those disciples were straining against the oars as they tried to maintain some sort of control and direction as the wind and waves whipped them about.
Why do I find this situation so relatable? I am emerging from a long experience with mental illness (I feel pretty confident in saying that). For the past nine months, I’ve been battling hard with my thoughts and emotions. Times I was jumping out of my skin, times I couldn’t do anything but sleep, times I forgot what happiness felt like, times I felt so very unsafe in my own space, times I felt I had completely lost everything about me. I have felt some extreme storms as I’ve worked diligently with professionals to address this illness! And the whole time, I knew that Jesus had asked me to do it. Dealing with the problem instead of ignoring it with hopes it would just go away was the boat He wanted me to get in.
How many times I felt “It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come”!
During the whole time, I had the confidence that He hadn’t left. That He saw me struggling just as He saw His disciples straining against the oars (Mark 6:48). I was also totally aware that He could have stopped the storm at any moment- to make the wind and waves in my life die down. He had the authority- and He didn’t. He let it last.
And He was good to do so.
I’ve been thinking about what God has done for me as I’ve taking the turbulent route He led me to.
He’s let me hear His voice
The most reassuring part of the last several months was how sweet and gentle God was with me. When thoughts condemned, He spoke His grace. When I reacted in sin, He drew me to correction with chords of loving-kindness. Reassurance of His love, His power, and His grace has been my steady companion. I have known viscerally that I can come authentically to Him with any and every emotion without rejection. His Truth has been exactly vital to me for the duration of the extended period.
He’s prepared me for my calling
I’ve felt called to speak into the lives of women struggling with mental illness. To help them understand things like pain and how to respond in a Christ-like manner. And so God led me into some difficult psychological pain- and helped me really understand how weak I was, how prone to engage in numbing behaviors instead of clinging to Him. How sweet the forgiveness and restoration has been though the process has been so difficult. I can say a whole lot more empathy has been added to my life for those battling these illnesses! And compassion. I’ve learned it as I have received it from Him as well as those He’s put in my life to walk this with me. Humility is another trait He’s worked on both as I’ve come face to face with my sin and weakness and needed to receive help from Him and those around me.
Of course, it is much easier to see His presence and working retrospectively. But if you are one who is there- in the dark, in the storm- take comfort. The One Who is directing your path is the One all winds and waves obeys. And I take special solace in this thought about the way He interacted with the disciples’ storm. While He could have stilled it from the remote mountaintop where He saw them straining, He refrained until He had come out to them.
So take heart! Even when everything seems as wrong and dangerous as could possibly be! When you feel with all your soul that the One Who calms the winds and the waves has not yet come. Remember and choose to believe. He’s coming out to meet you in your storm.