Every night, I dreaded the sun going down.
When the sun went down, my anxiety flared up. For weeks on end that summer, the sunset represented that my battle with anxiety was beginning and it would last for hours and hours. Sleep escaped me. Fear overwhelmed me. Panic plagued me.
On countless nights, I would pray for the sun to come up. I prayed for the darkness and anxiety to fade. Surrendering everything to God, I would collapse in exhaustion as the light began to shine through my bedroom curtains. Sometimes, that collapse would lead to a few hours of sleep before I had to begin my day. Other times, I would give thanks that the darkness was over and go in search of some caffeine to get me through the first part of my day.
I’m still not entirely sure what made the summer our family relocated to our current home so anxiety-triggering and panic-inducing. But those nights remain vivid memories in my mind.
I thought of that summer recently as I listened to @River Valley AGES’ song, "Sunrise." The chorus begins with words that described my summer living through the wilderness of bodily reactions I couldn’t control.
WATCH NOW: Sunrise LIVE from River Valley AGES
“God, You're faithful as the (Sunrise)
Surely You'll never leave
And Your goodness lasts a lifetime
The promises You have for me
If you’ve gone through a dark night of the soul or a season of life that felt like a wilderness, you know the temptation to question God’s goodness and faithfulness. You wonder if God has abandoned you and if He will keep his promises to you. The “Why” question echoes in your mind as you grasp for answers and clarity amidst the darkness.
If you’re in the middle of a season like this today, you need to know you are not alone. You are not the first to walk through a space like this. In fact, there is an entire book in the Bible devoted to the emotions this kind of experience evokes.
Lamentations is one of the most honest and helpful books in the Old Testament. Written by the prophet Jeremiah, Lamentations contains the grieving of a man (and a nation for that matter) who are watching their nation be captured by a foreign enemy and judged by God for their rebellion and wickedness.
Though the book includes some dark and raw sections, it also offers us words of profound hope. In Lamentations 3, after describing the loss of the past and the difficulty of the future, Jeremiah returns to the source of his hope in the darkness:
“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, 'the Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!' The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him so it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.”
God is faithful and His mercy begins afresh each morning. Over two millennia after they were written, I lived those words. While Genesis 9 records the rainbow as the symbol of God’s promise and faithfulness, most of us don’t get a daily chance to see that image. We do, however, get to see the sun rise each day. Each morning, we have a visual reminder that God’s mercy is fresh and new.
Listening to "Sunrise" on repeat reminds us of God’s goodness in our darkness.
For those with a past that seems to disqualify them, "Sunrise" reminds us that “far as east is from west, you took my past.”
For those struggling with shame in the present, the song shines a ray of hope and truth.
“Drowning in shame where light seemed lost stuck in desert days 'til mercy came and saved my heart”
For those worrying about the future and if they’ll be navigating it alone, these words offer peace.
“Captured in wonder light found within Your love, Lord, You're constant as the sunrise, I know You'll never leave”
It’s been seven years since that summer of anxiety and panic. I have seen the faithfulness of God and many sunrises of mercy since those days. The panic and anxiety have returned at surprising times and in unexpected ways. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be immune from them.
But, I’m grateful for this new song and the way it reminds me that God is good. When I saw the sun rising in the sky this morning, I knew that no matter what this summer holds - I won’t be alone and God’s gracious hand will continue to carry me.
He is carrying you today, too!
Scott Savage is a pastor and a writer, and yes he does have the best last name ever. He leads Cornerstone Church in Prescott, Arizona. Scott is married to Dani and they are the proud parents of three children. He loves helping hurting people forgive others through his Free to Forgive course and you can read more of his writing at scottsavagelive.com.