“Many waters” is a phrase that intrigues me. It is used 20 times in the NASB Bible, mostly in the Old Testament and only in Revelation in the New Testament. It is a descriptive phrase that uses the sound and sight of a vast amount of water to help us understand the immensity, the power of something. If you have been to the ocean and seen the power of large waves crashing on the shore, you get a feeling of a very strong, uncontrollable force at hand.
In her book Wave, Sonali Deraniyagala describes what it was like to be swept up in the tsunami that struck the southern coast of Sri Lanka on December 26, 2004. “I was being dragged along, and my body was whipping backwards and forwards. I couldn’t stop myself.” The wall of water engulfed her and her family as they attempted to flee their hotel. In the book she goes on to describe the tremendous force of the water: “The water was pulling me along with a speed I did not recognize, propelling me forward with a power I could not resist. I was shoved through branches of trees and bushes and here and there my elbows and knees smashed into something hard.”
The power of many waters was very evident in Deranivagala’s description. The feeling of being powerless, of being overcome by a force you cannot control; a feeling of being tossed about with no way to stop it; a feeling of helplessness. It is a description that captures how we might feel about life sometimes when we are overcome by events we cannot control. But when you think of many waters in relation to the ocean, as something vast and seemingly endless, it can be a way to describe God’s love and provision for us. No matter what force we encounter that may seem insurmountable, God’s power, his love, is far more powerful and infinite.
This month, every Thursday, I will reflect on the term “many waters” in various passages of scripture.
© 2021, CGThelen
Next Thursday: Overtaken by Trauma