It was one of those days when I had too much to do, and not enough time to do it.
I’d been running on empty for several days; no time to rejuvenate, no time to be still. I had a mountain of homework, a room that needed cleaning, a dusty house, and piles of ironing. Meanwhile, there were changes at work during the busiest time of the year, and I was rushing from task to task, not quite paddling hard enough to keep my head high enough to breathe.
I should have gone home an hour before, but I was stuck writing names on little glass tubes. I was hungry and tired. Another 10-hour day.
I hated walking home in the dark. While I was fit enough to walk, to enjoy the health benefits (and extend the life of my car), I walked whenever I could. But when it came to walking in the dark by myself, I resolutely refused. I called my brother and asked him to drive my car down.
Minutes later he popped in to let me know my car was parked outside. I thanked him and promptly burst into tears.
As I blubbered through all the things that worried me, he gently wrapped an arm around me and let me sob. I’d done my best to hold it together all day, trying to bite my tongue when asked inane questions, or reply appropriately when asked to take on yet another task that was put on my to-do list without my consent. I’d presented myself as a professional, and I was proud of myself for not being curt during a time of tremendous stress.
But I couldn’t be strong any longer. I cried and cried.
Finally I took a deep breath. Slowly peace returned to my heart and soul.
As my brother turned to leave, I noticed that his eyes were red too. At first I thought he had a cold, but he didn’t. His heart felt my pain as he empathized with me. Then a thought came to mind: What if God cries too?
That evening, as I sat at the desk laboriously writing out each name in Sharpie on those glass tubes, tears returned briefly. This time, however, they were not tears of sadness or worry; instead, they were tears of contemplation.
My image of God is sadly distorted because of an abusive father and men in my life who have focused on themselves rather than on others. While I do my best to change the grooves that insist God is different from what I think He should be, when I’m honest with myself I know that I still have much erasing to do. I struggle trying to understand God as a God of love, compassion, and empathy. Somehow God isn’t supposed to have feelings, even though He created us with emotions, and we are made in His image.
I hope there is a God who will part the heavens and rescue me from the deep waters that David described.
I grew up in an ultraconservative context in which emotions were frowned upon unless they elicited born-again responses or those based on guilt or fear. I remember being surprised when I stumbled across Psalm 18 and read: “The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry” (verse 7). David cried out for help against his enemies, and when God heard David’s cries He was angry.
I imagined Him looking down and hurting along with me, feeling my worry that I wouldn’t get everything done in time, and empathizing deeply with my weary heart. I imagined Him feeling sad with me and for me as He longed to show me how He cared. I imagined God loving me as much as my brother did; then I cried some more. I wanted to know a God like that.
I want to know a God who will rescue me from the deep waters that David described. In moments when I’ve run out of strength and fight, when the slightest hint of compassion threatens to send me into a torrent of tears, I ponder wistfully what it would be like to have a Father like that.
I need God to be more than a Redeemer; I need Him to protect, to comfort, to understand, to defend. For what good is a Savior if He has not encountered our fears? How can we call Him Immanuel, God with us, unless we have felt His gentle touch?
I felt that touch once. I was lying on a bed in my aunt’s house, fearful and worried about the future. We were waiting for a single sheet of paper that would determine whether we could return to the home we’d known for the past six years.
As I begged God to hear and answer our prayers for a green card, I wondered if He even cared. Then I felt it. It was as if He reached down, and through His touch calmed my soul. I knew His touch, even though I’d never felt it before. Just as sheep recognize the shepherd’s voice, just as children were drawn to Jesus, just as the poorest of society knew that He brought hope, I, too, recognized Him.
This is what I hold onto in dark times: a God who sees my fear; who weeps when I am in pain; who bends down with unreserved kindness to gently reassure me. “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate” (Ps. 103:13).*
* Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Maria Lombart writes from Middle East University. Her passion is living as an authentic Christian.