Lessons Learned and New Mercies Found in Hard Places

 

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Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

God is our strength and our provision even in hard times. Hard times come in many guises: a major illness, death of a loved one, the loss at a job, the desertion of a spouse or the betrayal of a friend. In the words of Eliphaz, humans are “born for trouble as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).

Hard times, much like sleep, are a necessary and natural part of life. I have matured because of my struggle with both hard times and sleep.

By definition, few comforts exist during hard times. Enormous energy is needed to acquire the essentials for life: food, shelter, sleep and fellowship. I have been jobless for more than six months and am definitely in the midst of hard times.

I would have never visualized myself among the long-term unemployed. Yet, here I am feeling needy, vulnerable and fully cognizant that I am “at risk.”

Into my heart comes a Rhema word. The word still rings in my spirit: “Be still and know that I am God.”

I hear and I imagine that my feelings probably mirror those of Peter as he walked on the water. Like him, in the midst of a storm, I hear a call to stillness and a call to growth.

How am I to understand stillness in the midst of my turmoil? How do I practice waiting on God when the storms of life continue raging? I found answers when I understood the similarities between stillness, or waiting on God, and sleeping.

Sleep is vital for life. It may look like inactivity but sleep is a dynamic process and is necessary for health and growth. Still, young children sometimes resist sleep and consequently experience grogginess, behavior problems, colds and impaired functioning. Caring parents counteract their child’s resistance by enforcing regular bedtimes and ensuring children have adequate sleep.

I need to sleep. During sleep energy is restored, strength is renewed and consciousness is altered allowing me to dream, problem-solve and re-create daily challenges in a safe environment.

Sleep is like stillness. As I wait on God, I am refreshed, I mature and I grow. Like the apostle James (James 1:2), I must welcome hard times with joy and redeem the time by refocusing on Him – looking attentively to Him for direction as old things, old thoughts and old ways of being become new.

Seeing things differently is uncomfortable and scary. I find myself running to His word for strength and for hope. Although my vision is changing, my situation remains the same.

Obstinately, I remain standing on what I know. God is a good and caring God. I shut down external stimuli, relax in His grace and Providence and continue to wait.

Waiting on God is an attitude of the spirit that is reflected in choices and actions. I diligently monitor my words, choosing to praise Him rather than to whine or complain. I also continue to live in obedience, persevering with my job search routine: networking, sending out resumes, scheduling interviews, sending thank you notes and doing volunteer work in the community.

I wait knowing that God is trustworthy. He is at work and will sanctify all things — even the hard things — for my good and His glory.  Amen!

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
 to guide the future, as He has the past.


Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
 All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Words: Katharina von Schlegel, 1752. Music: Jean Sibelius, 1899

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