“Though the Waters Roar and Foam, You are my Ever-Present Help—Great is Your Faithfulness.” Acrylic on canvas. 30”x40”. 2019.
I have good news to share today! After nearly 11 months of searching, struggling, and waiting, God has answered my prayer and provided me a paid, 12-month position as the Arts and Humanities Intern at the City of Takoma Park! I just received confirmation that my background check and paperwork all went through this morning, so everything is official now! Praise the LORD! “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits—…who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:2;4-5)
“I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 40:1-3)
It is fitting that on this day of rejoicing God also allowed me to finish this piece—His timing is perfect! I started planning this piece over a month ago (March 30th), back when I was still in a time of waiting and uncertainty. The initial idea came while I was reflecting on my Bible reading in the Psalms. That day was supposed to have been Day 2 of Regeneration Who, a Doctor Who convention that I had reserved an artist alley table for back in October and had been working hard to prepare for ever since. However, less than a week beforehand, the convention was shockingly cancelled with little notice from the staff and no word on refunds. I thought I had trusted God to get me this far, but as I processed the news, I felt the walls crumbling down and the waters raging around me as my plans shattered. Like so many times I had been rejected from jobs and art shows over the past year, I felt my heart sink and wondered why God was allowing these things to happen again and again.
But as I reflected more, I realized that He was stripping me bare and exposing the hidden areas of my heart. My reaction to this cancellation, although not complete devastation, proved that I had indeed put a little of my hope in this event, rather than putting it ALL in God. Through these many trials, He has taught me that I cannot trust in anything or anyone other than Him—not a job offer, not an acceptance email, not a planned convention, not even well-meaning words from someone I love. When everything else crumbles, “He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 62:6). When my soul is dismayed, He is my hope, and “I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:11). When my plans are shattered and the waters rage around me, “God is [my] refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…The LORD Almighty is with [me]; the God of Jacob is my fortress” (Psalm 46:1;7). When I am rejected by others, in Christ I can rejoice, for He is “a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed” (Isaiah 28:16). Christ is sufficient in every circumstance; He is the bread of life, in Him, my soul will be satisfied (John 6:36; Psalm 63:5), not in the things of this world.
The Hebrew text comes from these meditations on God’s Word, specifically the Psalms. As the Psalmist wrote, “Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens…If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life” (Psalm 119:89;92,93). God has preserved my life through His Word. Day after day. Though trials come, His Word stands firm, as the Hebrew text does in the piece. The text, though crisp and bright, still carries the weathered texture of the raging water, because God doesn’t just leave us with His truth to remember and force us to bear the hardships alone, He literally stands with us in the midst of the storm and bears our burdens and scars, upholding and sustaining us through it all. The text reads like a prayer (see the following numbers for corresponding rows and keep in mind that Hebrew is read from right to left), 1.) “Hope in God (Psalm 42:11), 2.) “My Strength and Song” (Psalm 118:14), 3.) “My Rock” (Psalm 62:6) and “Refuge” (Psalm 46:1), 4.) “My Fortress” (Psalm 91:2); 5.) “And my Salvation” (Psalm 62:6); 6.) “In You (Psalm 31:1) I will not be shaken” (Psalm 62:6). It is also a testimony—my strength in these hardships was not found in myself or my own abilities, but in God alone. And I know that the gift of this internship was not due to my own endurance or patience (for I have fallen short many times and grown weary), but God’s love and faithfulness. To Him alone be the glory!
I’ll leave off with these verses, from which I took part of the title, “Great is your faithfulness.” Spoken as a lament by the prophet Jeremiah, who had suffered great persecution and witnessed the destruction of his beloved Jerusalem, they still ring very true today, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’ The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:19-26)