By Sarah Logan
Last month my heart skipped a beat when Bishop Stewart announced that Psalm 4 is specifically written for those facing a crisis. For real? Because here we were, 17 days after perhaps the worst crisis of my life. I was still stunned by the abrupt shift our family encountered when my 17-year-old son took a ride on his supposed-to-be-sold-and-done-with motorcycle. The previous two weeks were like fingernails sliding across the chalkboard of my life, unavoidable screeching in the ears of my soul. Though our son was alive, and had not lost limbs or brain function, witnessing his pain and considering how close he had come to dying that night, we felt deeply the shock of sudden and irreversible pain. Crisis had arrived.
For months I’ve had rising anxiety over some of the potentially hazardous outcomes of my son’s fixation with motorcycles. We were so relieved he had found a buyer and was selling his bike on Friday, September 1. Only a day too late. On August 31, a car turned left in front of him, and he had less than a second to respond. He hurled through the air, a day after his 17th birthday and faced imminent death.
My worst nightmare had been to receive a call and hear an ambulance and police in the background. To hear my son groaning and leaving the phone connection open with no dialogue. To drive to the scene of an accident and explain to an officer that it’s my son back there. Crisis. If ever the word was appropriate, this was it.
Somehow, during the following two days, I maintain a steady calm, despite two very long sleepless nights. Actually, God maintains his hold on me. I wrestle with mounting fears, among other things like anger, shame, remorse, regret, and deep deep pain and empathy for the pain I am witnessing. It feels like my life is a perpetual prayer unfolding. I can do nothing but fall helpless into the arms of Mercy, trusting God to undergird my quivering soul. It feels like no real work to trust, because trust is the only option in times like these. But then crushing anxiety looms like a dark cloud and then there is soul-work to do. I don’t always succeed. I need to be bolstered. I need refreshing. I need reminding. I need to hear what God will say through the gathering of his people on Sunday. My ears are wide open to receive from this telling of Psalm 4.
I sit listening to Bishop Stewart and I feel he is conversing with my brain chatter the entire time. He tells us first we are to cry out to God. I’m like, “Check, we’ve been doing a lot of that.” Then, point two is: Keep confidence in God. Ooh, this one is harder, I reflect. I have kept my confidence in God mostly. But then there’s the night I couldn’t sleep for worry of the potential financial ruin that can come after these events. Or the possible life-long sufferings our son will face. Or the way my life might be radically changed by the ongoing needs of a child with serious limitations. I argue in my head with the preacher: “How am I supposed to keep my confidence in God at a time like this?”
Without missing a beat, I hear the answer: Reflect more on the reality of God than on your crisis. The message continues to unfold and I again sense I am being upheld in my soul. I am instructed, fed, guided, nourished, and my helpless, deflated, grief-stricken heart is strangely warmed and comforted. “There is a God in heaven who has seen me in my suffering. He is bringing his words to me in this moment. And I am grateful,” I muse to myself.
You may be wondering about all the details– is he okay? Is our life turned upside down? How is my heart in all this? Have I lost my confidence in God? There are no straightforward answers. We are thankful and amazed at how the Lord spared his life, limbs, brain, and back. How he has broken bones and some serious wounds, but will recover, albeit with perhaps some lifelong residual effects of this serious accident. It may feel like our lives are turned upside down, but they are also turned right-side up. We are more aware than ever of our utter dependence on God. We see his protection, his kindness, his mercy, and turn ourselves again and again to him in thanksgiving. We love God more through this painful season because his beauty is shining bright in every detail. We see ways God is hearing and answering prayer. Morning prayer group has faithfully prayed for me and our family for the past year or so. And when this accident happened, they continued to pray fervently.
I feel like we are living Psalm 4. Even in the midst of crisis, fear, and sorrow, we plead for the light of God’s face to turn toward us. We long for a refreshing taste of Who he is. We know many are watching as we go through these difficult days. They are the ones asking, ‘What will your God do now?’ There are those who have yet to encounter such grace and kindness from a loving Heavenly Father, One who has all power and goodness in him and delights to answer when we call.
Prophets were often called to endure difficult seasons, some even lived entire lives in great suffering. I don’t envy them. Quite the opposite; I shrink back from pain. “Lord, I’d rather not!” is more often my prayer than, “May it be unto me according to Your word.” But maybe I can learn to trust that God has grander purposes in our light and momentary afflictions, which honestly don’t always feel so light and temporary.
After listening to the sermon, I feel a personal call to tell our stories, to bear witness to the God who is working all things for our good, if we love him. It feels a bit bold and vulnerable. I sit in a waiting room at the follow-up visit and discuss the fears we face. And in the same breath, I tell my son to read Philippians 4:6,7 aloud. I tell him I will choose not to be anxious. I will trust what Paul says later, that God will supply all we need. I tell my son, “We can trust God. In the little things and the big things.”
In these moments I also tell God, “I’m believing You will walk through each of the details of our crisis with us. Please make your presence known not only to me, but to our kids as well. Will you fill our hearts with greater joy, than when others reap in a great harvest?” And I leave the answer with the God who hears me when I cry out to him.
He is merciful.
He hears my prayer.
“Let the light of Your face shine upon me, O God.”
When Sarah Logan isn’t blogging, meeting with directees for spiritual direction, or hosting a spontaneous gathering, she’s probably sleeping or muddling through the latest family drama–of which five kids and multiple in-laws provide plenty. A missionary kid from Hong Kong, married to a missionary kid from Zambia, Sarah often meditates on her heavenly citizenship, humming the old hymn, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through…” which can be found in one of the hundreds of hymnals she’s collected. Enjoy her other musings at sarahsbonnetbees.blogspot.com