Has suffering ever hit you so hard that you lost all sense of direction?
Maybe someone you love is getting sicker and sicker rather than better and better.
That complicated relationship you’ve poured your heart into for so many years is not just fraying at the edges but severing at the center.
Have you ever heard the term “spin cycle?” If your mind jumped directly to a washing machine you’re headed the right direction, but if surfing didn’t enter your mind you’ll end up at the wrong destination.
Stay with me…
I grew up a block from the beach in Southern Jersey. Surfers would swap stories at the end of their day claiming that massive waves hit them so hard that they were “caught in a spin cycle.”
I remember hearing them explain how, after being hit by a set of successive waves and pulled underwater, they couldn’t distinguish up from down or left from right.
But, what scared them the most, was when they were unable to take a breath of air before they were sucked beneath the next pounding wave.
Can you relate to the words of the Psalm writer regarding his soul’s spin cycle?
Psalm 42:7 says “all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.”
Psalm 42 (a lifeline when your life enters the spin cycle!) gives three ways to survive the spin cycle: Admit, Hope and Remember.
First, to survive the spin cycle of the soul, admit that your soul is thirsty and lost.
The Psalm opens up with the image of a hunted deer, panting with labored breathing, trying desperately to take in a breath.
Ever been there? The circumstances of life are hitting you so hard that you can’t even inhale before the next wave slaps you under?
The writer has been crying tears of confusion, and from the vantage point of others, it appears that God is nowhere to be found (vs. 3 “where is your God?)
But he admits that even though is soul is thirsty, lost and spinning like a weather vane in a windy storm; his soul is really thirsting for the living God (vs. 2).
Second, when your soul is caught in the spin cycle, direct your heart to hope in God.
Psalm 42:5 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.
When suffering strikes, your thoughts and emotions might be best compared to a jar full of lightening bugs beeping randomly in the dark.
Open the lid of your heart with prayers of hope to God and send him those erratic concerns.
Hope promises relief at the end of the winding road of waiting.
The heat and intensity of the pain will pass.
A wave is a wave not an immovable wall.
Finally, when your soul is caught in the spin cycle, remember the times God has been there for you in the past.
Psalm 42:6 My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you…
Don’t look at the next wave of suffering coming your way. It’s a wave. Waves come and go like winter giving way to spring. Like night giving way to day. Like storms giving way to sunshine. Stop asking “what if?” because you’re trying to be God rather than trusting His next page in the book of your life.
Instead, look into the rear-view mirror of your life story and bring back into your mind (re-member) all the good that God has lavished on you.
Remember when he answered that prayer that only he heard through your sobs?
Remember when he gave you that undeserved grace?
Remember when he showed up that night in the dark when you were pounding your pillow with a fist, feeling pain and betrayal?
Remember when he gave you his only son to remove the guilt and shame of your sin forever?
Remember when he surprised you with his mercy after you ran away from him?
And do you remember when you laughed so hard in the joy of his supply and benefits that you forgot what was up, down, left or right- but you didn’t care- because you knew your heavenly Father was in ultimate control?
Remember, whether it’s the spin cycle on your washing machine,
or the spin cycle for the surfer,
or the spin cycle for your suffering soul,
The waves do finally come to an end, and all is quietly calm in Christ.
Metro North Church