And then the sun rose again.
Do you know the power of these words?
Then, darling, I hope you rise with the morning to shine with hope.
For those who know the power of the sunrise
have known the terrors of the night.
And I hope
each new day you rise to shine
I first heard about sackcloth and ashes in Sunday School.
Our teacher assumed we’d think throwing ashes on yourself was gross or weird. She was probably right, but that day, we were indoctrinated early to think that physical, natural, cultural expressions of grief were almost savage.
Avoiding depressing passages in Scripture is common among Western believers. We rarely quote the beginning of Psalm 69, where David describes his inner turmoil at the betrayal and hatred he faced. Christians prefer Psalm 69:34, “Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything moves in them.”
It feels much easier to ignore the storm by jumping directly to the sunburst. Western culture is infiltrated with the idea that expressing one’s negative emotion is melodramatic, uncool, or absurd. We learn outbursts of feeling are inherently “weak.” Certainly, we can inappropriately express our strong emotions, yet that doesn’t mean all strong emotions are wrong.
When we as Christians are uncomfortable with Scripture because it seems too depressing, we can miss learning the whole truth because we’ve jumped straight to the conclusion.
Night Is Necessary For Our Souls
I’ve had insomnia for many years as a result of my chronic illness. If you’ve ever spent a night with a hot pillow and a mind that refuses to calm down enough to sleep, you know the feeling of utter exhaustion and frustration at being deprived of the rest you need. I’m so grateful for the doctors who have given me solutions—I can sleep now.
Our bodies need sleep. We can’t function without it. In the same way, when our souls are struggling, we need to process our difficult emotions. Night is just as necessary to the soul as it is to the body.
Your Permission To Be Sad
If you feel like you’re doing something wrong when you are sad, read Psalm 69. David is completely honest. He doesn’t apologize for his emotions.
He’s not the only one who has felt like he is drowning. If you’ve ever felt this way, I want you to know that your sorrow does not confuse God.
You don’t have to ask permission to be honest about your feelings. But if you feel like you need permission, here it is. You are free to acknowledge your emotions. You are free to be sad. You are free to grieve. You don’t have to ask permission to walk through the darkness. This is your necessary night.
Deliver Us From Sinking
When we’re caught in the mire of our troubled soul, what do we do? How can we pray? If a friend tells us, “I don’t know… I’m just really feeling depressed and hopeless lately,” what do we say?
The first step is acknowledging two things at once. First,, the reality of pain. Second, that salvation will come.
“Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.” (Psalm 69:1-3)
David intimately describes his feelings of reproach and shame. He sits with his pain for much longer than most of us would be comfortable doing. After he has acknowledged it, he finally surrenders his darkness by gazing on the only true ray of hope.
“But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.” (Psalm 69:13a)
It’s so beautiful, hope. It whispers, “My prayer hasn’t been answered yet, but I know where salvation is found. And I will wait, even if I must wait in these dark waters.”
There Is Hope For The Hopeless Heart
“At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love
answer me in your saving faithfulness.
from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
and from the deep waters.
Let not the flood sweep over me,
or the deep swallow me up,
or the pit close its mouth over me.
Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.” (Psalm 69:13-16)
Dear rose, do you feel like you are sinking beneath the waves? A drowning person cannot deny the waves. But you cannot stay here, either. It is time to call upon the Lord, to wait patiently for His salvation.
Seek Him. He will answer, for He loves you steadfastly. He is full of mercy and love. You will have to keep calling. You will have to keep struggling. You will need to reach out to other friends who can throw you ropes and prayers and encouragement. You will need counsel.
But most of all, you need hope. Hope that this ocean is not a bottomless pit, that there is a ship with a good Captain, coming to save you.
Hope For The One Caught in The Storm of Darkness
My dear girl, when you are weary of waiting, remember this: our God does not abandon the needy. He does not despise the drowning.
“For the Lord hears the needy
and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.
Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and everything that moves in them.” (Psalm 69:33-35)
Even these seas, even these deep waters will praise him. So even while you wait for salvation, praise Him, dear Rose. He has not forgotten you. The morning will come for your heart, too, and you will see the sun, breaking over the waves, and remember that your Savior loves you eternally.
The sun will rise again.
Bethany’s name means “bright city on a hill.” This is her mission in life, to illuminate the beautiful things and shine God’s light where there was darkness. Bethany leads The Wilting Rose Project, a ministry of encouragement for young women who feel their struggles make them worthless. She writes tales inspired by her love of the forest, where she spends many of her mornings, soaking in the uniquely Minnesotan beauty. Her blog includes more personal documentation of her journey the last few years with Lyme disease and Toxic Mold illness and the journey of healing she is now on.