Some time ago I heard a pastor quote lyrics from an old hymn. I’ve never heard the hymn sung and the lyrics didn’t particularly resonate with me at the time, but it stuck with me for some reason. I heard those lyrics in my head a few days ago and looked up the hymn. The first verse (and the section I originally heard) goes like this:
Begone, unbelief; my Savior is near,
and for my relief will surely appear;
by prayer let me wrestle, and he will perform;
with Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm.
That last line really sums up how I’m feeling these days. The first time I experienced trauma I was shell-shocked. But as time went on, in the midst of my grief there was a presence of Christ that was so sweet. Anyone who has experienced grief knows what I’m talking about. The sense of freedom in the loss of control, the level of spiritual awareness, rest, sensitivity to others’ pain, etc.
As the grief faded so did the sense of that presence (not that I think Christ was no longer actively with me, but the sense of comfort diminished as I no longer needed it). The years went by and I found myself eventually really missing that presence. I remember praying something along the lines of “God, I would love to be back in that place of spiritual depth again. I don’t know if you can do it without the pain, but I hope you can find a way to bring me back there again.” Now, I’m not saying I prayed the cancer on myself, but in some way I do think that experience was an answer to my prayer.
Not long ago I found myself again praying that prayer, but it had changed a bit to something more along the lines of “God, give me the pain if that means I can have more of you”. I’m like an addict. I crave the “high” even if it means pain. The sweetness of this time is worth the bitter. Talk about the gospel turning things upside down.
A later verse in the hymn I mentioned earlier goes like this.
His love in time past forbids me to think
he’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink;
Though dark be my way, since he is my guide,
’tis mine to obey, ’tis his to provide.
I love that I can rest in that truth. The reason I can smile at the storm is because of how I know God has been with me in the past. My role in this is to cling to Him and pray. His role in this is to work out the story. I have no control, but why would I want it when the perfect one loves me and can write it so much better than I could?
I don’t think this is the original tune of the hymn, but if you’d like to hear the whole thing (with some slightly different lyrics) I found a version of it here.