By Sarah Lundgren
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” ~Ram Dass
One morning a few weeks ago, I awoke in a great deal of abdominal pain. I figured it would subside so I did a little stretching, took some ibuprofen, and went about my day. By mid-afternoon the pain had dramatically increased, and I willed myself to Target to purchase a heating pad and anything else I could think of that would bring me sweet relief. By evening I was on the floor, curled up in pain, praying for relief and calling my husband, J, to let him know urgent care was probably in our future. As I lay on the floor with nothing but silence around me and pain consuming me, I prayed. God spoke, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.
When J got home that evening, he helped me into bed so I could rest for a little while before heading to the doctor. Again, as I lay silently in bed, I prayed and God spoke, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Miraculously, when I awoke from my nap, the pain was completely gone. I believed God had answered my prayers! Little did I know what was in store for me over the next few days.
The next day, I awoke with a sinus headache so severe that I could not even think straight, and my back had completely seized up. Every movement was excruciating. All I could do was lie in bed and pray. God mercifully met me there in the silence, and spoke straight to my heart in ways only our Father in heaven can.
By the third day, the abdominal pain and sinus headache were waning, but new pains were popping up all over my body. I looked at my sweet hubby and told him I felt crazy. “How can I even tell anyone what is going on when the symptoms are changing so fast?” I said. “Who would even believe me? I feel like a set of dominoes, not knowing what will knock me down next.”
It was on this day that I fully surrendered.
See, in the weeks leading up to this pivotal weekend, I had been filling up with frustration, anger, hurt, offense, and a myriad of other toxic emotions.
On the first day, when I was writhing in pain and calling out to God for relief, he reminded me of the judgment that had taken up residence in my heart. I acknowledged my emotions but focused on my physical pain and prayed for healing.
On the second day, God and I continued our discussion about the condition of my heart. I was justifying wrong emotions left and right. I was hurt and offended because I believed I had been wrongly judged. I was angry and frustrated because I felt nothing I did seemed to make a lasting difference. I felt justified because, in my eyes, I was innocent. I didn’t want to forgive because forgiving meant I had to come face to face with the source of my emotions–my pride and my bruised ego. I felt like Jacob wrestling the angel.
On the third day, I surrendered. I had wrestled every emotion and in the end been completely humbled by my own sinfulness. As I sat in the bathtub, soaking my aching body, I cried tears of release, grief, and peace. I asked God to forgive my deep-rooted pride and purify my mind and heart. A fresh dose of humility washed over me like a waterfall. Looking back, it seems beautifully poetic that I was soaking in water as my heavenly Father washed my spirit clean.
Please understand my heart here: by no means do I think that God ever causes us pain to teach us a lesson or purge our sinfulness. I am simply stating that for these three days, God allowed my pain to bring me into a place of silence so I would come to him, listen to his healing words, and be released from what was truly binding me: pride, offense, judgment, pain, and unforgiveness.
There were only two constants during those three days of trial: God and stillness. My pain changed, my heart changed, but God was constant and faithful, and it was in the stillness that I could hear him whispering truth, conviction, and healing into my heart.
In Exodus 14:14 (NIV) says “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” It was only in my stillness that I could see how boldly God was fighting for my heart and healing all of me–not just my shell.
Lord, I thank you so much for loving each of us so deeply. May we remember each day to be still and wait on your wisdom, your truth, and your love. Thank you for this Lenten season the reminder that stillness is not inaction but humbly giving you room to speak. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Scriptures for Reflection
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 NIV)
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12 ESV)
Reach For More
This week’s challenge is to take five minutes each day to be still. For some of us, this will be incredibly difficult due to our schedules and daily demands. However, it is in the stillness that God speaks, and what better way to honor our Father than by quieting our hearts and minds for a few minutes a day to truly listen to him?
Dear friends, we can do this. Be courageous, and let’s be brave enough slow down and be still. We will never regret giving God room to speak to us.
Please, come back and leave a comment telling us about how God spoke to you this week, or share your progress on social media using the hashtag #tgtreachformore. We would love to hear from you.
Sarah Lundgren has a passion for all things sparkly, loves God with her whole heart, and is known to love Starbucks chai lattes a whole lot, too. Sarah is currently snuggled in the heart of Grand Rapids, Michigan with her sweet hubby, J, and her full-time job is making pretty things all day long for her Etsy business, so sarah designs, but she also loves writing devotional content here at The Glorious Table.
Photograph © Bethany Beams, used with permission