Treading Assaulting Waves

Treading Assaulting Waves

I turned the lights off in the kitchen and den one evening. Another long and difficult day had ended. I forced intentional steps toward my stairs to go to bed. As I walked into the entry hall a sense of dread overwhelmed me. It was a heaviness I’d never felt; it stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t like it. It persisted, and I experienced a dark fear. It scared me. A sense of despair surrounded me. The future looked grim, hopeless in that moment. The journey ahead looked long and painful. Overwhelming. Relentless.

“‘…my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10

On another occasion, I had a sense of losing touch with reality. I don’t remember if it began with confusion or fear. I had this feeling that I was drifting and losing touch. I had this thought: “Has this shock led me toward insanity?” I sensed I was losing touch. I was unable to maintain clarity. Jerry Sittser, in A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, described it as if he were “…dizzy with grief’s vertigo…” I totally understand his description. Confusion. Insanity. Assaulting waves.

“Maybe He’ll turn the water into land. And maybe He’ll take your hand and say, ‘Let’s take a walk on the waves…’” Steven Curtis Chapman, “Take Another Step”

Fortunately, I learned the discipline of pressing into the dread, fear, and confusion. I learned to stay with the waves. I recognized and embraced undeniable and horrible loss. As I accepted and stayed with the waves, I learned that assaulting waves would pass if I pressed through.

These lessons are bolstered by hymns such as “How Firm a Foundation.” This excerpt from the third verse is a powerful reminder to me:

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow; for I will be with thee, thy trials to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.” John Rippon, “How Firm a Foundation”

Tom Elliff, a friend and mentor, stated that his prayer for himself during his loss and now for me during my loss was this: “That my conscious sense of Jesus’ presence would be greater than my conscious sense of Kim’s absence.” Deep waters and assaulting waves need to be outpaced.

I remember hearing a song, “O Praise the Name,” and embracing the first lines as an antidote to the assaulting waves:

“I cast my mind to Calvary, where Jesus bled and died for me. I see His wounds, His hands, His feet, my Savior on that cursed tree.” Hillsong Worship, “O Praise the Name”

When assaulting waves persist you have to wait patiently for them to subside. Or better yet, you have to wait for them to be driven out by the presence of Jesus. The crucified Christ is victorious. So, in the battle when I’m surrounded by waves, I intentionally cast my mind to Calvary.

I also think of Jeremy Riddle’s words to his song, “Sweetly Broken:”

“To the cross, I look, and to the cross I cling. Of its suffering, I do drink, of its work, I do sing. On it, my Savior, both bruised and crushed, showed that God is love and God is just. At the cross, you beckon me…” Jeremy Riddle, “Sweetly Broken”

Most assuredly, a sense of faith and certainty of the eternal hope to come will drown out waves driven by temporal loss. Eternity with him is better—more secure—than any man-made anchor. Matt Boswell and Matt Papa call the cross a “ballast of assurance” in their song, “Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor.” His cross is a strong reminder of the foundation upon which we stand in the face of assaulting waves.

“…all I have needed Thy hand hath provided…” Thomas O. Chisholm, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8


  1. Anonymous

    D Ray, thank you for this new ministry of sharing how you tread this grief with Jesus . We

    have friends that are going through the death of a spouse. I want to give this website to them.

    You will make a difference because you glorify our Heavenly Father and point to Him as your

    Rock and Anchor. Thank you, D. Ray.

    • D. Ray

      Please share…the more I am able to journey with…the better.

  2. Anonymous

    Thank you D Ray. This reminds me of so many of God’s people who came through our MemCare doors hurting so tragically. One family in particular who lost all their children and a grandmother in an instant. Wanting to die and escape the unending pain was the predominant theme of our meetings. The mother poured out her grief in endless emails in fetal position questions. The father held back his tears until he was alone not wanting to add to the pain I guess. Wrenching heartbreak and yet we watched Jesus carry them, understanding how much it hurt. We had no answers for them but we watched Jesus at work. The One who does not live in time gives us time and makes His Presence known. A broken heart does not mend. It scabs over.

    • D. Ray

      Another powerful reminder that grief is rampant and must be faced. It is as individual as we are and people must be given the space to embrace their journey. My only counsel…face it and tread the waves that come and watch Jesus’ presence overwhelm the pain slowly.

  3. Anonymous

    Thanks D.Ray for sharing! Grief is something we just don’t fully understand until we experience and your words and thoughts are insightful for me as we are in our Autumn of our years!

  4. Annette

    Deliver us, deliver us O Yahweh, hear our cry and gather us beneath your wings. Amen.

    • D. Ray

      Amen, indeed, Annette!

  5. Anonymous

    Thank you, D. Ray. We are here, listening, taking in what God is saying to us.

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