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There are mornings (ahem, months) I can barely bring myself to look at the news, at social media, at updates coming in from around the world.
Chaos and disaster, suffering and disease, confusion and division . . . they’re all within reach, as near as the closest device. “Come, Lord Jesus” escapes in a whisper and echoes in pixelated captions. It’s all too much, so much more than we were created to hold, and our hands are already full, our hearts already heavy from the stories of loved ones who are hurting.
I sat and stared at the Atlantic a few weeks ago and had a short conversation with God. It went something like this:
God, there’s no end in sight, in more ways than one, and I’m here again asking You to do what You’ve done before. From where I stand, there is literally no way. But if You parted the waters then, You could part the metaphorical ones now. Please, God. Please do. Please be exactly who You are. Make a way. Still the chaos. Push the waves back. Clear a path through the seemingly endless blue. You’re the only One who can and it looks straight-up impossible, like there’s no chance in the actual world. But You’ve done it before. Would You do it again?
I could tell you that He did, that I woke the next day and everything had changed, but that would be a lie. From my vantage point, it’s all still blue, blue, blue waters swirling and stretching as far as the eye can see.
But this morning, as I read Matthew 8, a smile began to tug at my lips as I remembered once again the lesson I learned in a college classroom.
In ancient times, expanses of water were tied to darkness and chaos. The sea was believed to be where evil had a foothold, and it was often featured as God’s opponent. If you read Scripture through that lens, watching for references to water, you’ll be amazed at how God’s goodness is woven through.
The Spirit hovers over the waters at creation. The Red Sea is split for the Israelites to walk through. Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River and walks on the Sea of Galilee. And there, in Matthew 8, we find the disciples, many of whom grew up on the water as fishermen, terrified by the sudden storm and confused by the God-man who was sound asleep in the boat.
In verses 26-27, we’re told that after they woke Him, Jesus “stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: ‘Silence!’ The sea became smooth as glass. The men rubbed their eyes, astonished. ‘What’s going on here? Wind and sea stand up and take notice at his command!’”
Jesus wasn’t in a deep sleep because He was indifferent to the crashing waves; no, He was completely at peace because He knew that although chaos might appear close at hand, it is never in control.
As my college professor would be quick to point out, we must remember the promise found in Revelation 21:1. There, at the end of the story sitting on nightstands and at the beginning of so much more, we’re told that the sea will be no more. Every storm will be stilled and all will be made new, every drop redeemed into a river of Life with waters as clear as crystal (Revelation 22:1). Fear will be replaced with peace, heartbreak with beauty, devastation with joy. One day, chaos will be permanently calmed.
Here in the middle, Dr. Leonard would say the Hebrew invitation is to “tiqqun and tiqvah.”
In Hebrew, tiqqun means ‘to heal, repair, or restore.’ Tiqvah means ‘to hope’ and comes from the root word for wait.
As much as we’re able, we tiqqun. Through the Spirit working within us, we serve and love one another, bringing peace to chaos. But ultimately, we tiqvah, waiting with hope and resting in the promise that a grand restoration is already on the way.
There is still the plea of “Come, Lord Jesus.” There is still the desperate prayer of “do it again.” There are days our hearts break as our fingers scroll, and there are very real storms that will never be shown on a screen or posted to a social media feed.
But there is a deeper assurance like an anchor in the waves: We are not adrift in a sea of chaos.
No wave can overtake Him, no storm can overpower Him, and no wind can shout louder than His gentle whisper. Our tears might fall and mingle with the blue, blue, blue that stretches on, but Psalm 56 says God leans low, low, low collecting each one. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll find Him in the waves, a kind twinkle in His eye and a smile on His face as He says “Keep watch, daughter. Beyond what you can see from where you stand, a way is being made. Even now, the promise is coming true. Chaos never gets the final say.”
May we watch and wait with hope. The waters might rise, but our friend Jesus is familiar with waves and one day, hallelujah, the sea will be no more.
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If you’re watching and waiting, desperate to see God’s goodness in the storm, Even If Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the in Between will help you shift from the suspicion that God isn’t kind or present to the truth found in Scripture: on every single page of the story, He is with us and working all things for good. We have not been forgotten or overlooked. He is not indifferent to the raging waves or the rising waters. Chaos has a time limit, but thank God we’ll find Him in the storms, too. With us. Coming close, making a way even now.