This last week I’ve been wrestling with a lot of the not-so-noble-and-inspirational aspects of suffering. Some of you know what I mean…
I fractured my knee a couple of weeks ago, and I’m on crutches now until May. In constant pain. Not sleeping well. Having to cancel all kinds of things on my calendar I was really looking forward to. Not keeping up with things I desperately need or want or HAVE to do. Overwhelmed by the daily difficulty of fixing myself a meal or taking a shower — let alone writing a book and a blog and keeping up with a radio ministry and … and …
Daily coming face to face with the weakness of my flesh — both my physical flesh and my sin nature…
Feeling stressed and anxious and miserable and whiny. Even though I really don’t want to feel that way — be that way.
I’ve been trying to just let it go… just trust God with all of this. I’ve been trying to keep it in perspective. Even in my own life, this particular “trial” doesn’t even come close to other things I’ve been through… it’s not THAT big of a deal.
And I’ve come a long way from the days when I used wrestle with a secret bitterness in my heart toward God — when I used to see every difficulty or hurt or hardship as evidence that He didn’t love me, that He had rejected me or abandoned me.
I know He loves me. I am absolutely convinced of that. I believe in the deepest part of my being that He has chosen me and not rejected me (Isa 41:9) That He will never leave me nor forsake me. (Heb 13:5, Matt 28:20)
I know I can trust Him and His sovereignty — rest in His will for me.
I can be still…. (Psalm 46:10)
But sometimes “being still” for me ends up being more of a kind of spiritual stoicism. I’m just sucking it up and dealing with it — whatever “it” is. And usually in my own strength.
I think I’m trusting God and being a grownup — as opposed to throwing childish tantrums (!) — when really, I’m just suffering in silence. Stuffing all the hurt and frustration and disappointment and trying to ignore it. Pretending it isn’t there or that it doesn’t matter.
The moodiness, the crabbiness, the crankiness — it’s one of the clues. Telling me my heart isn’t quite as “still,” quite as settled as I’d like to think.
This morning I reached for my Nana’s favorite devotional (and mine) — Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman. It had been a while. As I flipped through the pages, looking for today’s date, words I had underlined on March 20th leapt out at me. A truth God had spoken to my heart years ago — another time I was on crutches and bedrest and wrestling with all this stuff. Yet somehow I’d forgotten it.
It speaks to the difference between stoicism and being still, between being still on the surface — and truly settling your heart in Him:
Have you learned this lesson yet? Not simply to endure God’s will, nor only to choose it; but to rejoice in it with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
I will be still, my bruised heart faintly murmured,
As o’er me rolled a crushing load of woe;
The cry, the call, e’en the low moan was stifled;
I pressed my lips; I barred the tear drop’s flow.
I will be still, although I cannot see it,
The love that bares a soul and fans pain’s fire;
That takes away the last sweet drop of solace,
Breaks the lone harp string, hides Thy precious lyre.
But God is love, so I will bide me, bide me–
We’ll doubt not, Soul, we will be very still;
We’ll wait till after while, when He shall lift us
Yes, after while, when it shall be His will.
And I did listen to my heart’s brave promise;
And I did quiver, struggling to be still;
And I did lift my tearless eyes to Heaven,
Repeating ever, “Yea, Christ, have Thy will.”
But soon my heart upspake from ‘neath our burden,
Reproved my tight-drawn lips, my visage sad:
“We can do more than this, O Soul,” it whispered.
“We can be more than still, we can be glad!”
And now my heart and I are sweetly singing–
Singing without the sound of tuneful strings;
Drinking abundant waters in the desert,
Crushed, and yet soaring as on eagle’s wings.
I know my heart’s truly in the right place when I can not only “be still,” but be glad. So I’m going to keep coming to Jesus, keep talking to Him, keep working through what I’m thinking and feeling, until I can.