You keep track of my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.Psalms 56:8
Have you ever been in a psychiatric hospital? Can you imagine what it would be like? You are scared, alone, feeling sick and confused and lost. People are screaming, rushing about, acting out, crying endlessly and you have nowhere to hide.
That is what one of my many hospitalizations felt like when I was in my late 20’s. It was an involuntary hospitalization. My psychiatrist had sent for an ambulance to take me there after I severely mutilated my arm with a box cutter. I was put in isolation where I could be observed around the clock in a lonely room on a bed with 5 point restraints holding me down. I remember singing songs to God as I looked to a skylight in the center of the ceiling where the moon looked down on me. I literally was crying out to Him. I heard nothing.
The next day they moved me to the main unit in the ward. It was so loud and all I could think of was where was God in all of this? Why have I been abandoned? Did I go too far this time and He had turned His back on me? A therapy session was starting and I went into the room. It wasn’t talk-therapy which, to be honest, I had had enough of at that point. It was art therapy. The therapist had us draw what we were feeling. And of course, I was feeling like I was sinking into an abyss and all I could think of to draw was a hand reaching up out of the darkness for somebody to pull me out to safety. The drawings were hung in the main hallway. It was late and I didn’t feel like having dinner so I asked for my meds early and went to bed defeated.
The next morning I wandered into the hallway where our drawings were hung and I noticed something immediately. My drawing was hung upside down. It was no longer a hand reaching up for help but was now a hand reaching down to save. That was my God. That was the answer I needed. He was still there in the midst of all the chaos and sadness and sickness. He cared for me and He was telling me “I am here with you.”
I never doubted God’s presence after that day. I didn’t get miraculously healed. It wasn’t the last time I’d be hospitalized. But it was a foundational moment where I knew that God loved me. Even through the simple symbolic gesture of a drawing turned upside down, He was letting me know of His love. And I drew ever closer to Him at that moment.
God only asks that you call out to him and he promises to answer. And I know for a fact God keeps His promises.