Someone requested recently that I write a post about what happens after a shipwreck, they were encouraged by my ‘In the midst of Shipwrecks’ post. What do you do when your world has fallen apart, you have weathered the rising tides and woken dazed and confused on the shore? So here it is.
I don’t like formulas or ‘steps to success…’ kind of posts. I find them misleading and very unhelpful at times. As a Christian, if I am putting my trust in a checklist to achieve what I need to do, it becomes more about meeting the checkboxes, and less about worshipping God. But before you decry me as completely crazy, I do agree that checklists are helpful- I make lists of things I need to do in a given day. I’m just saying that our health or our wealth or our Christianity shouldn’t come about because we met checkmarks. So while I’m not going to list 10 things to do next, I will say there are 3 things that helped me move forward when I woke up gasping for air on the sand.
Deep breaths, The Word, lots of prayer.
It sounds so simple. But it’s not. Taking those few few faltering breaths can be the hardest things you’ll ever do. But they make it easier to take more breaths, and more…You get the picture. When you pick yourself up off the sand, the storm is over, you are lost and confused, the only thing you can do is breath. You probably have no energy for anything else. A lot of people in the height of grief, or pain go into survival mode. This can involve going through the motions, just doing what needs to be done, even if you have no idea what you are doing. It’s ok. It’s okay to be an empty shell for a while. Sometimes, we need it. We need those moments of clinging to something-anything- to help wake us up to how much we need God.
Obviously I don’t condone using sex, drugs, or excessive alcohol or violence as a way to survive. There is never an excuse for this. But those small things, like spending all day in bed watching TV because our pain is too great we can’t face the world. Or spending the whole day at the beach because we don’t want to come home to an empty house. Spending time with family and friends.These small things are important to our growth, to moving on. And we shouldn’t be afraid to breath.
The other thing I needed, was the Word of God. I found myself writing down hundreds of references about broken hearts, comfort, and other passages that I needed to read as I learned to live with the pain. And every verse, line, word, was what I NEEDED to hear. Granted, not always what I WANTED to hear.
Probably, one verse that gave me the most comfort was Psalm 46:1. God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.
I memorised This verse, put it on my fridge, my toilet door, my car dashboard, in my wallet. Any time pain welled in me, I would read it. I think I became mildly obsessive compulsive about this verse.
And it sums up what I’m on about. God is our Refuge. We can cling to him, We can rest in Him, we can go to him when all hope of recovery is lost. A refuge is a safe place, a place of shelter and protection. God is our safe place.
When we wake up lost and bruised on the shore, we should go to our safe place. Do whatever it takes to find that refuge.
You might be saying, “That’s all well and good, but not so easy when you have nothing left. When all your energy is spent.”
It’s true. It isn’t easy.
but what is the second part of that verse?
God is our Strength.
The God of the universe is offering His strength and his power. With His strength we cannot fail. He has more power and strength than anyone/thing in the universe (including Satan!). Therefore, when we feel like our strength is gone, we should remember, God’s strength is unbreakable. He cannot and will not run out of strength. Humbling, confronting and encouraging all at the same time.
But what is the final part of the verse?
A very present help in trouble.
It’s not saying, He could be available, but will have to check his schedule. It’s not saying He will only help in certain circumstances. It’s not saying, He’s not willing to help unless you help yourself.
It’s saying, He is there. ALL THE TIME. Helping. He is present in the now. In the future, in the past. He is always there, always available for help, always helping even when we don’t ask.
But what is the key to all of this?
‘You’re saying He is a refuge, and he gives us strength, he’s always there. But how do I get this?”
Pray for refuge. Pray for Strength. Pray for help. Pray for encouragement. Pray for comfort. Pray through your tears. Pray in the silence. Pray when you have no words to say. Pray when you feel overwhelmed by grief. Pray when you have nothing left to give.
And the verse that I had to repeat to myself a thousand times a day. Whenever I felt like I would crumble. When fears crowded in on me.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging
Verses 2 & 3. He is a refuge, he helps us take the first breaths we need to survive. He helps us take those first few steps towards rebuilding our lives.
And what should we do in return?
Read his word. Pray for his strength. Breath. and have NO FEAR.
Hard to do. Believe me. But you’ll make it. You’ll get to a point where breathing doesn’t hurt. You’ll start smiling, and loving, and getting into life again. And eventually fear will lose it’s grip and you’ll know you made it to the other side of the storm.