It was the end of July, and I stood silently beside my husband in church. I reached my hand for his, and the way he squeezed back my grip let me know he felt much the same as me. A lump sat heavily in my throat, tears threatened, and then the dam broke as they slid down my face and dropped onto the floor. In my periphery, I could see my husband’s eyes also overflowing as the weight of the worship song’s truth somehow lifted some of the weight we had been feeling.
Then You crash over me and I’ve lost control but I’m free. I’m going under. I’m in over my head.
And that was certainly how we felt, like we were in over our head, drowning. In so many ways our lives had never been more abundant and blessed. We had a blissfully happy marriage, four adorable daughters, and the home of our dreams. We both had a colored past, with mistakes made, broken marriages, and addiction, but through the love of God we had risen above it all, found healing, and found a deeper relationship with the Lord. It was almost like a fairy tale for the past few years. Every day together had gotten better, and we had grown so much as a couple and individually. Are you waiting for the but?
But… we both had noticed something amiss. We were both experiencing an unwelcome depression and anxiety in our lives. We woke with it heavy upon us, and had begun burying ourselves in the scripture as a form of dealing with it. Reading God’s Word was the only thing we found that lessened the unwelcome, negative emotions that tried to bombard us. It was strange, but there was a yearning and thirst for the Bible that ran alongside the onslaught of melancholy madness.
Then had come what felt like a spiritual attack. In addition to the depressed mood came physical problems. Car trouble, home maintenance issues, a horrible stomach virus that went through our home, and even an unfounded lawsuit against my blog. My husband’s business was having serious financial problems that were only growing worse, and my own small business had taken a major hit that made me question if it was even what God wanted me to do anymore. We felt like at a time when we were the closest to God we had ever been, we were also being beaten down by life.
When we talked about it together we realized we had both been praying for God to draw us closer to Him, to show us His will for our lives. So why did it feel like He was crushing us?
As we stood in church that Sunday the words of the worship song we had never heard before poured into our spirits like a soothing balm.
And You crash over me, I’m where You want me to be. I’m going under, I’m in over my head. Whether I sink, whether I swim; Oh it makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
We did indeed feel like crushing waves were crashing over us, but we also knew in our spirits that even in the pain of refinement our God was good. It was where He wanted us to be, and it was beautiful. He was drawing us closer, getting us where He had for us, and perfecting Himself in our lives. It could take your breath away when God crushed you, but when He lifted you back up He renewed His breath within you. Sometimes the world crushed you, but sometimes God placed you in a Refiner’s Fire of sorts to burn away the world. Occasionally life could seem like a fairy tale, then God would pull out the pleasant rug beneath you with the purpose of showing you just how much better it could be.
The answer, in case you’re wondering, is it can be better than you ever dreamed.
As I heard that familiar worship song this morning I was reminded of God’s goodness. I cried. Things from a year ago were gone. The minivan with engine trouble? Gone. The big house? Gone. My small business? Gone. My husband’s failing business? Gone. Even the stomach virus was gone. God had replaced our wonderful life with an even better one. We were traveling the country, following God’s lead, spending more time together, and drawing closer to the Lord each day, while teaching our girls the same.
I suppose I’ve learned that life as a Christian doesn’t mean you won’t have pain or loss. It simply means that even when you’re drowning, it can be beautiful, because you’re not alone. The other side of pain is always lovely. There is indeed joy in the morning.