My sense of independence, strength, and ability had been completely rattled.
And then the ground of Haiti shook.
I felt the Port-au-Prince earthquake and aftershocks from over one hundred miles away.
My trauma was nothing compared to those in the epicenter. Why were they dealing with life and death, and I was dealing only with fear?
And yet… it was one more thing.
One more thing on top of past events and on top of my recent anxiety.
One more thing rendering me helpless — completely dependent on God’s grace.
And the shaking of the earth that left me — and Haiti — even more fragile…
…was the parting of the seas.
Just like the Hebrews, I trembled in both fear and awe as miracles happened
in the face of disaster:
Our three Haitian children and hundreds of other orphans,
held “captive” by years of paperwork, were
by the Haitian government to their American families.
In the face of all that’s horrible, unfathomable, and terrifying, there was beauty.
That’s our God.
It was the “fullness of time” for our family. I brought the kids to the U.S., while Jarod worked to bring relief to Port-au-Prince.
I had just recently been reduced to nothing. And yet God enabled me to travel through Haiti under conditions I would never have agreed to on my best day. Literally every breath was a prayer. And every prayer was answered. God was there, correcting every anxious thought, showing me His grace.
He was present in every dramatic moment.
The drama finally ended.
But the anxiety did not.
For over two years I looked normal. Most everyone believed I was fine. I kept expecting my fears to subside, but they only grew.
I refused to drive. I managed to manipulate schedules and plans to avoid being the driver.
I hated confining spaces. In church or public places I made sure I had an exit strategy or sat by a window.
I hated being alone. I was afraid I’d go completely crazy if there wasn’t someone else around to interact with.
I was certain we were on the verge of another catastrophe – I kept waiting for “the other shoe to drop.”
I hated the way my heart thudded, even hurt, as I drifted off to sleep and as I awoke. I hated the wave of panic that hit me every time I braved Wal-mart or a restaurant.
But the derealization was the worst. The sense of detachment — of feeling dissociated from my own self and my own life completely terrified me. And that caused my heart to pound and hurt and a new wave of panic to wash over me.
I slept to temporarily escape from fear, from the weird dream-quality my life had taken on.
I took vitamins to build myself back up from the stress of the past years.
More significantly, I reached for my Bible again, again, again, and again.
I could perform Martha’s duties no more.
I sat, like Mary, hungry for hope, for encouragement, for truth.
I knew my pain was so small compared to the millions still suffering in Haiti. I knew millions more suffered around the globe. I hated sin and evil and their consequences. I found myself wishing along with Job that I had never been born. After all, “…man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). If I was miserable in the comforts of the U.S., how did anyone in the face of true suffering find the hope to continue on?
But I haven’t been the first one to ask those questions.
“… the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” (Ps. 103:13-14)
“I will not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord.” (Ps. 118:17)
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” (Ps. 46:1-3)
On a plane one day — nearly overcome by panic, I found Psalm 34.
I prayed that it would eventually be my testimony.
1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
3 O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.