A sine wave is a mathematical curve that, when graphed, has a smooth repetitive oscillation. Basically it is a series of peaks and troughs. The sine wave is used in various fields to study sound and electrical current. It’s also used in the field of Computer Science, which is what I studied at Concordia University in Nebraska. We would use the sine wave to help illustrate the times when a computer’s processor is either actively working on a calculation, or idle waiting for the next set of instructions. But this mathematical curve can be applied to things farther outside the fields of science and mathematics.
The sine wave also depicts humanity, and the changes we all go through. C. S. Lewis, in his book The Screwtape Letters, writes about this phenomenon. If you’ve never read The Screwtape Letters, or have but can’t remember it, it is a series of letters from a demon named Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood. In one of these letters, Screwtape is trying to educate his nephew on the strange thing humans go through called change. He writes, “while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation—the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks.” Throughout every aspect of our lives, we experience these peaks and troughs. Sometimes we are in a place of joy and celebration, where we are rested and at peace. Other times we are stressed out, mourning, or simply not happy. I’ve seen it a lot in myself, especially the troughs. No one likes the low points, in fact we try everything we can to get out of them. I always long for the day when I’ll be rested, happy, and excited for another day. That longing for the peaks in life, often times, makes us dread the troughs.
When we are in those troughs, we are dominated by the Law. We only think about what we have to do. But, the good news is God works hardest when we are in those troughs. As St. Paul says, “But [Jesus] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The troughs are where God works the hardest, allowing us to grow in our faith and life. Don’t be afraid of the troughs! I know I will look forward to every trough here at Star of the North Lutheran Church. I look forward to growing with all of you, as God works in us and through us.
Rev. Dustin Atkinson is the pastor of Star of the North Lutheran Church, 216 N. Forest Drive. Sunday school and bible study at 9:30am with Divine Service at 11:00am every Sunday. Visit sotnlc.org for more information.