Although every day is difficult with my son’s illness, some stand out as ones that will forever be etched in my mind. And this was one of them. Something triggered him, as had happened countless times before, and a two–hour–long episode began. As chaos went on around me and he suffered at the hands of his illness, my adrenaline pumped within me and I leapt into action, buckling down for the long haul.
By the time it had passed, he had melted into my arms in tears, and I was left with an aching heart and an exhausted body. But worst of all, I was enveloped in an overwhelming sense of loneliness.
Not only was I physically alone, but the longer our son’s challenges lasted, the more isolating it became. Very few could relate to our specific circumstances and most barely knew they existed. Even countless doctors were at a loss as to the cause, let alone the solution.
As the years have gone by and the challenges have increased over the past decade, the loneliness has grown exponentially. I now sat on the floor, holding back tears as the other kids chased each other around the house, blissfully unaware of all that had just transpired. Even with noise all around me, the loneliness grew louder.
A knock at the door interrupted my runaway thoughts. I gathered myself and opened it to find on my doorstep a small box containing a small, clear bottle. No note, no signature, just a little bottle with a tiny scroll rolled up inside. I slowly unrolled the fragile piece of paper and read these words:
You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
. . . This I know, that God is for me.
I stood there for a moment, still perplexed by the unexplained box on my doorstep with no one in sight. But a small wave of comfort began to wash over me. In this moment of incredible heartache that no one could see but me, I felt seen and, somehow, less alone.
Is God really for me? I wondered.
Does he really keep track of every sorrow that causes me to toss in bed at night and every tear that falls when no one else can see?
As I thought back to all that I had endured over the years and all that still loomed in front of me, these few words carried so much weight. To be seen and known—we all desire that, don’t we?
But what if there is Someone who sees and knows us like no one else ever could? Could it be that there’s a God who wants to draw near in the messiness of our grief and loneliness, unlike those who shrink back in discomfort? Could it be that he sees us in the dark of night when painful and anxious thoughts rob us of sleep? Could it be that he sees the tears that come when no one else is watching? And if so, could it be that those tears, and the circumstances that provoke them, truly matter to him?
Read more about the answers to these questions, and the hope that Sarah clings to in her book, Tears and Tossings : Hope in the Waves of Life, the title of which was inspired by the anonymous act described above.