We arrived at our favorite beach early in the morning. The crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe mirrored the surrounding forest. But even though we were on vacation, I couldn’t relax. I felt spiritually numb — like my faith needed resuscitation. I took the kayak out, paddling toward the coves, hoping the glistening blue waters would revive my lifeless faith.
As I stared at the aquarium of boulders beneath me, stuffed emotions like stacked rocks surfaced. Nobody was around, so I told God how distant I felt from Him. Before I knew it, I was telling God everything I was angry, hurt, confused, frustrated, and worried about.
I lamented relationship struggles, blocked dreams and aspirations, past trauma, confusion about His calling for my future, and loneliness parenting teens who don’t want to talk or hug. Recently, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease that’s causing scar tissue to grow inside my trachea. Two weeks before this conversation with God, I underwent surgery to open my airway — which was fifty percent blocked. Anxiety lingered over the struggle to breathe, getting the correct diagnosis, finding a qualified Kaiser surgeon, and the prospect of needing repeated dilations for the rest of my life.
It was all taking a toll on me; my problems were like boulders crushing my joy. I longed to feel God’s presence, trying to remember a scripture or song . . . but I couldn’t even think of one. Lord, please show Yourself to me. Help me think of a verse. Please speak to me.
Then came the words God wanted me to hear: Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.
Shifting my gaze from the depths of the water, I looked up. Majestic mountains towered above me, embracing me like a hug. When we returned to the cabin, I found the verse in my Bible where David prayed these same words to the Lord:
From the end of the earth I will cry to You when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:1-2 (NIV)
A quick computer search for a deeper meaning of overwhelmed read, “to be buried underneath a huge mass of something.” Naming my troubles helped me to get out from under the huge mass of my burdens, to unload my compulsive drive to make sense of circumstances I didn’t understand and couldn’t control. Sometimes, when we tell God our sorrows, doubts, and fears, we may feel like we are being ungrateful and disrespectful. But it is helpful to distinguish lamenting from complaining. Complaining dissatisfies us, whereas lament connects with God, leads us to repentance, and renews our hope.
Lament is a passionate expression of grief and sorrow that draws us closer to God. More than a third of the psalms are laments, all ending in praise. We may lament when we’re grieving, helpless in our situations, struggling with sin, or heartbroken. Through lament, Jeremiah found peace and changed his hopeless perspective (Lamentations 3:1-24). Soon after Hannah lamented — crying out to the Lord and pleading for a child — she felt better and could eat again (1 Samuel 1:9-28). After I poured out my heart before the Lord, God redirected my defeated thoughts.
Look to Me. Don’t base who I am on how people treat you or what has happened to you. I am not them. I am not your circumstances. I am your Rock. The source of your strength and hope to get you through troubled times.
The Lord told me to stare at Him instead of my problems. When I did, my eyes opened to the ways God had moved in every area I prayed about. Sometimes God answers my prayers so gradually that I don’t see His hand at work. Healing is a slow process and takes time. Keeping my eyes on Him, I can see the restoration that God had already done. I wasn’t getting weaker; I was getting stronger. Every trial, challenging relationship, and difficult emotion has been helping me depend on God. I have hope for my future, and I can look forward to new seasons in parenting. God is in control of my health and every breath I take.
When we got home from vacation, I bought a gratitude journal. I can’t explain it but ever since that morning on the lake, it’s so much easier to see the blessings and answered prayers in my life. The next time my problems pile high, I want to share them with the Lord instead of stuffing down my emotions.
When pain is overwhelming, God is our safe place. My friend, if your heart is burdened, tell God why. God loves you even when you’re mad at Him. As we express the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that weigh heavy, we can free our hearts. Lament is often the unexpected pathway leading to the Rock that is higher and bigger than all our problems.
They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.
The Lord is my Rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my Rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.