In our most turbulent times, God promises to never let go.
by Yvonne Kays
“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16, NLT).
Will the grayness never end?
Grief had shattered my heart, shuttered my future, stolen my joy. The long winter months of mist and rain in Oregon’s Willamette Valley only increased the darkness that shrouded my heart. So many dear ones cut from my life in the past five years: my husband of twenty years, both my parents, a dear cousin, a beloved aunt, one of my best friends. Even my dog had died.
I glanced at the journal by my bed. My faith helped me endure as I recorded encouraging scriptures to lean on and events that reminded me of God’s love. When grief hit, I found solace within those pages.
Remember, spring always prevails over winter.
The depression and heaviness seemed to be receding lately, with surges of delight and hope peeking over the horizon. And Honey, a golden lab puppy with a sweet disposition and soulful brown eyes, eased the loneliness of an empty house.
Today bright light flooded into my home. Lifting the curtains, I beheld brilliant hot-pink azaleas and lavender rhododendrons bathed in golden light. Yellow daffodils and grape hyacinths bobbed their heads in the flowerbed. March sunlight had melted away the seemingly unending gray winter overcast, and billowy white clouds floated in an azure sky. The thrill of new life stirred my soul.
“Do you want to go for a walk, Honey?” I asked. She jumped up and down as I grabbed the leash by the door.
Soon a warm, gentle breeze tousled my hair as we hiked along the rural country road leading up the steep hill to the east of my home. At the top, I thrilled at the sight of majestic Mount Hood gleaming in a cloak of white to the northeast. And in the incredibly clear spring air, even the flat, white top of Mount St. Helens and tip of Mount Adams could be seen towering to the north. Remembering these crystal peaks hidden for months in winter’s cloudy veil, I reveled in their sheer beauty.
Just like God, they are always there. But sometimes I can’t see them.
With a lighter step, I continued my walk with Honey, turning right on the dead-end road at the Christmas tree farm. I released Honey from her leash, and she bounded through the trees, always looping back to check on me. At the crest of the last hill, we dropped down to circle the cul-de-sac in front of two homes nestled at the road’s end.
As I started back up the hill, I was startled to see a giant hand made of clouds in the sky towering above me — all five fingers clearly visible, with the hand cupped invitingly, palm up.
It’s the hand of God! Words floated through my mind: Your name is written on the palm of my hand. A wave of incredible love washed over me. I felt honored, cherished.
The hand seemed to whisper to my heart, “Don’t be afraid. Come closer. I love you.” Oh, to climb into the hand and be held! In awe, I stood transfixed until it gradually faded away.
The vision replayed in my mind as I walked down the hill. So gentle and inviting. Tears of joy welled up in my eyes.
Looking back now, I think I understand why I was blessed with this dramatic invitation to draw closer. It prepared me for what lay ahead.
First, cuts in grant monies threatened my job, which had been my anchor through the grief. As my supervisor and a co-worker left to take other jobs, I struggled to fill the gaps and help train new staff.
New love also came into my life. After a whirlwind courtship, Keith and I were married in May. Moving into Keith’s home after a wonderful Florida honeymoon, I faced more change. Traffic noises and train whistles woke me several times a night — a drastic difference from my quiet rural home.
Separating from a home I loved and sorting mementos of a twenty-year marriage plunged me into a deeper level of grief. Blending two households was difficult. We did not need three couches; I gave mine away.
Everything was in a new place, and new routines needed to replace old established patterns. During seventeen years of country living, I had never moved my furniture even once. My new husband rearranged the living room furniture twice in the first month.
As a person who thrived on structure and stability, I floundered in the disarray of my life.
I couldn’t sleep. I felt lost. Every strange noise filled me with fear when my husband worked nights. I began waking around three o’clock in the morning, tossing and turning, feeling overwhelmed and more inadequate in all areas of my life.
I couldn’t think clearly or make decisions; I cried for no reason. Waves of anxiety threatened to paralyze and engulf me. Despite my best intentions and prayers, I flailed in a sea of churning emotions that I couldn’t control.
My friends and family prayed for me. I went to counseling. Finally, I went to my doctor for help.
“Even good change can cause overwhelming stress,” she told me as she recommended an antidepressant. I took the medication.
Through it all, the vision of God’s hand and its gentle invitation remained. Draw closer echoed in my heart. I clung helplessly to His hand; I read and reread His promises.
I found that the only way through this wilderness of anxiety was one step at a time. Every morning I asked for His help to get through that day. When paralyzed with fear or indecision, I would ask that my next step be made clear. I celebrated even small achievements.
Gradually the wild, racing, churning emotions gave way to islands of peacefulness and joy. But it was several months before I felt a normal sense of self returning and my doctor stopped the medication.
Sometimes the landscape of our lives is altered, and life seems out of control. God held out His hand to offer hope before the flood of deep waters. When I couldn’t reach shore, He carried me.
The anxiety has not returned but has brought new gifts: an empathy born from experience and a deeper, more intimate knowledge of God’s faithfulness and love.
Scripture says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). I have assurance that wherever my path leads, I do not walk it alone.
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