When You’re Sinking Instead of Sailing


When our son was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease, we journeyed through months of fear, disappointment, and loss. My heart was broken for him and us. I cried like never before.

When our daughter was living with friends we felt were a bad influence, my husband and I imagined the worst and prayed for deliverance. Keeping fears and thoughts of failures at bay was not easy.

When our granddaughter died it seemed life would never be happy again. How could it be when my 27-year-old baby girl was enduring a loss I couldn’t imagine.

In all of these and more, I remember feeling like I might not survive. It was all too much. I could see no way forward.

Have you felt that?

Drowning has always been a fear of mine because asthma has been my lifelong companion. Just the thought of not being able to breathe makes my heart race. Watching my children suffer has felt like drowning; the weight of what they were facing felt like crushing waves.

The hymn, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” includes the lyric, “O hear us when we cry to Thee, for those in peril on the sea.”  The hymn is a heart prayer whether the storm of life is on land or sea. Another old hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hours” is another one I’ve prayed over and over countless times.

God is with me, He has promised. How grateful I am to know that promise.

Reading and knowing God’s words to me keeps me grounded in turbulent times, and so do powerful lyrics.  Another couplet from “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” tells of His sovereign power and control: “Who bids the mighty ocean deep, its own appointed limits keep.” God explained His power to Job in a long list of questions and proofs, one of which was about the oceans: “Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed” (38:11).

Boom! Done. Apart from other sovereign acts of God the waves have kept their limits since God gave the order.

That knowledge is a comfort.

Poetry may feel outdated but its rhythms and rhymes lodge themselves in my memory and sometimes God’s Spirit brings those lyrics and tunes to my mind to remind me of what is true about Him. Such are the words of “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” a poem set to music in 1860.

If doesn’t sound familiar to you, you might remember it from The Perfect Storm movie soundtrack.  It is also the U.S. Navy hymn, was the favorite of President Franklin Roosevelt, and was played as the body of President Kennedy was carried to the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building.

My children and I have survived what felt like a drowning, and as God has promised, He has worked all of these storms for good in all our lives. More storms are sure to come and He will again be faithful.

May you believe God’s words in your storms and hang on tight to Him who is always with you!


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5 thoughts on “When You’re Sinking Instead of Sailing”

  1. Thank you for sharing your pain and encouragement. May God comfort you. I’ve been married for 35 years. Our marriage has steadily declined especially the last 2 years. My husband was unfaithful and involved in many affairs, etc. I forgave him. Now, he is silent. Something is wrong, many things are wrong. We are both Christians and have wonderful pastors who have helped, but my husband stopped seeking help. I have found refuge in the Bible, and I’m very lonely for companionship. Mother’s Day was very disappointing- no card or gift from our two sons still at home, and no involvement from my husband to encourage them to honor me. I ate breakfast alone again. Our older two acknowledged the day, and that was nice. When I tell my husband my feelings, he says nothing- literally; he just stares All he cares about is sports and our 2 sons’ involvement in them- sports is his drug of choice/idol. Our older two married children will not come home with their children due to the dysfunction. I visit them in their homes. I am experiencing death to my marriage, and I’m powerless. My relationship with God is growing, but my husband is neither interested in communication or sex, and mostly not interested in resolving any conflict, including his severe verbal abuse to me in front of our sons. He has deep psychological and emotional issues. I do not believe he’s having affairs. We both still go to our grace-filled church with our sons. God has taught me to be quiet, and there is “peace” in our home, but it’s very dysfunctional. I have support, and am trying to be faithful to God. My heart aches… I don’t want to divorce, and my husband will not reconcile with me or forgive me for hurt I’ve caused him when I finally got angry about his affairs, etc. Our home has turned into the dysfunctional home he grew up in. I feel no hope in my marriage because I can’t change another person. Neither of us will leave or divorce. I’m very lonely for communication, compassion, and love. The story of Gomer and Hosea is a favorite of mine, and very emotional for me. I’ve made positive changes and asked forgiveness and made amends for “my part”, but my husband will not forgive or reconcile with me. Thankfully I have a wonderful job- the best part of my day!
    Please pray for us. Thank you.

  2. Courtney Larash

    Our church’s last Sunday was yesterday. After 22 years of membership and working, it is all gone. Yesterday was a bittersweet and emotional day. On top of that, our landlord died and the estate is selling the house we have lived in for 15 years. We must be out by June 11th. Now we not only need to find a new church home, but a house for our family. Yet…God is good and his mercy endures forever. I shall wait upon Him for direction and guidance and depend on the Holy Spirit’s leading. “Be still, and know that He is God”

  3. Jeanne Ferguson

    Life doesn’t always turn out the way you think it will…Initially, my aged folks needed care, so we offered for them to come live with us. Four adults living together is quite a transition. Within 2 months, our beautiful daughter of 38 years was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. The next two years were filled with stress, anxiety, chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, pain and tears. To have 4 children and know that life is ending for oneself is difficult beyond measure. The cancer then traveled to her lungs and she left this earth, moving to heaven. Our next trial came when her husband within a couple days of her death, began dating . Everyone handles pain differently. If we didn’t have Jesus holding our hands through this very painful time in our lives, I truly don’t know how we would have been able to continue walking out this life. Jesus has given us HIS strength and HIS word that faithfully reminds us in Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” We don’t have the privilege on this earth to see what is happening in the spiritual world, but continue to walk out our faith as in, Hebrews Chapter 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Therefore, we Praise the name of the LORD!

  4. October 27, 2015, started like any other morning, but my husband never left for work that day. Within a short time we were loading him into an ambulance as he was showing signs of having a stroke. My daughter insisted on driving me because she thought it would be too much for me to follow the ambulance. We never saw the ambulance after it left our house, but I was so glad that when all around me the world was breaking–my husband was on the way to the ER and the morning sun was breaking over the horizon–the Peace that passes understanding was very present in my heart. I did not know whether we would have any kind of a future, but I knew in that moment that both my husband, myself, and our family as well as our collective futures were still secure in the Hands of our Loving Father. We have been blessed beyond anything we deserve as my husband’s stroke was a “small” one of unknown cause. Today he is back at work and continuing to improve and regain any deficiencies that linger. On October 27, 2015, I began learning what it means to lean on the Savior in spite of the storm.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story!!!! Wow!!!!! My heart goes out to you and your family….. May the lord cont. to give you strength !!!!! I will be praying for you and your family!!!!!! May the lord give knowledge and wisdom to your daughter!!!!! My heart beats faster just thinking of her pain!!!!!! ??????

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