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Through the Wilderness, Revisited

Mikaela Carillo
 

But I cry to you for help, Lord;

in the morning my prayer comes before you.

Why, Lord, do you reject me

and hide your face from me?

Psalm 88:13-14 (NIV)

 

Where the land was not sown 

And the wind blew not, 

The ground was rough-going 

And the air was too hot,

Where the land cried out 

And the enemy mocked,

I wept and called out, 

“Where is my Rock?”

Travailing in the heat

On my faith I locked

Waiting and waiting

At Your Faithfulness I docked

Wrestling the enemy

By Your Strength I fought

Through the wilderness,

To Your Arms I was brought.

 

I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;

be strong and take heart

and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)

The journey was long, full of tearful days and frustrated prayers, small victories and painful setbacks, returning fear and fear subsiding—yet in all I kept my eyes on the Lord and watched the power of fear slowly lose its grip on me, day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month.

Artwork Eunae Ko RISD

 

Author’s Note:

During the spring of 2019, I was going through the worst season of my life. My mental health had spiraled out of control, leaving me with near-constant anxiety and fear. From the time I woke up to the time I put my head down to rest, I was assaulted repeatedly with fear everywhere I went—as I walked to class, as I studied, as I chatted with friends, as I ate, as I went to church, and as I prayed. The fear was like a tornado, swiftly laying near-destruction to everything in its path. Soon it ripped through my faith, leaving me in despair and desperately far from the Lord. 

 

It was during this time that I penned the first part of this poem. A raw and unanswered heart’s cry to the Lord, I was hesitant to submit it to Cornerstone. The poem sounded hopeless. It didn’t point to the Gospel. It had no resolution—but it felt inauthentic to write in one that I had not yet experienced. I would not have been surprised if my poem had been tabled rather than published. Yet in Cornerstone’s Spring 2020 issue, there it was—a starkly honest piece steeped in unresolved pain. 

 

Despite my inability at the time to offer any resolution to the questions and pain expressed in the first part of this poem, I had faith—even in the midst of these questions and pain—that one day I would. It was that mustard seed of faith that began the long journey of victory that would make the second part of this poem possible. In the depths of my fear I locked eyes on the Lord and trusted in His faithfulness to lead me through life’s darkest valleys. The journey was long, full of tearful days and frustrated prayers, small victories and painful setbacks, returning fear and fear subsiding—yet in all I kept my eyes on the Lord and watched the power of fear slowly lose its grip on me,

 

day-by-day,

week-by-week,

and month-by-month. 

 

Through the wilderness of my fear, I came to know and love God more deeply. Though I had the faith to trust that God would lead me through this valley, at the time my understanding and love for God was off-center and deficient. So while God led me through the dark valley, helping me to overcome fear (as He continues to do), He also used the valley to rescue me from that shallow faith. He brought me back to the cross, teaching me Christ crucified and Christ in me and Christ for me. Through the wilderness, through the darkest valley, Christ was there to bring me into His arms.

Mikaela Carillo is a senior at Brown studying Public Health.

Photo and illustration by Eunae Ko, RISD '23.

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