Some of my favorite stories to read when I need to calm my anxiety are the ancient story of the Tehom.
Hebrew mythology tells that before the earth was created there existed Tehom.
Tehom is the dark, deep, chaotic waters that covered what was to become earth. When I imagine the Tehom I imagine churning dark waters filled with sea monsters and other dangers. Much like the churning dark of our subconscious it is a place that is home to many of our fears.
One of God’s first acts in creation was to tame the deep. God’s breath blew over these waters of chaos and separated them. Some were tamed to become the ocean and some were pushed up to become the waters of the sky. God created a dome to separate these waters creating a safe space in the midst of the chaos for people to live.
The next time we hear of the deep in the Hebrew Scriptures is in the story of Noah. In this story the waters of the deep are unleashed to destroy creation. Such is the power of the deep. But in the end of the story of Noah, God promises to never ever unleash the deep dark Tehom upon God’s people again.
The image of Tehom and God’s taming it come up again and again in Scripture.
Isaiah tells us of God’s promise
“when you pass through the deep waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers they will not overwhelm you.”
My favorite story of God taming the deep comes from the Gospels. Jesus and the disciples are in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a storm comes up. The chaos of the deep unleashes itself upon them with whipping wind and crashing waves. The disciples begin to panic with fear for their lives.
About this time they notice that Jesus is missing. When they find him sleeping below deck they ask him, “Lord do you not care that we are perishing? And Jesus does two things. He calms the wild deep with a word. And then questions the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
When I read this story (which is actually the story our anxiety management class is named after) I am comforted by two things.
There is one who has ultimate power over chaos.
I can trust this person with my life.
I know there will still be times when the deep threatens and the waters creep up around me. And there will still be times when I am afraid.
But the creator of the universe and restorer of my life reminds me gently and with compassion that I need not fear. I can trust the one who holds up the dome of the sky.
The waters will not overwhelm me. My God is with me even in the waves and I will not perish.
I wish for you calm seas tonight. But if the storms of fear begin to rage remember: You are not alone. You will not be overtaken.