Cancer Journey · Sabbatical

A Quiet Year: Reflecting on God’s Promises

beach scripture 2

“For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’”

Isaiah 30:15

          This past year felt kind of like being pulled onto an out-of-control train with no destination. Quiet seems like the last possible word I would use to describe it. And to be honest, if someone asked me to define 2015 in one word, quiet wouldn’t be the word I used. Chaotic. Scary. Broken. Life-changing (ok, that’s two words). Unbelievable. Those would all be good possibilities. But quiet? Yeah, that would probably be last on my list—right next to easy. Still, 2015 was full of a lot of quiet moments.

It was often quiet on the two-hour trips to and from Pittsburgh. It was quiet in the countless waiting rooms. It was quiet in the doctor’s offices. It was quiet in the PICU next to Austin’s bed and later, in more hospital rooms. It was quiet in the bedroom where I slept for six weeks. It was quiet on 9C (the infusion wing of the hospital) and downstairs in radiation (most days). It was quiet in my kitchen when I stood at the sink waiting for the phone to ring. . . . And you would have thought the quiet would kill me, but it was in the quiet that He sustained me.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God,” and I love that verse, although it is very hard for me to do—to just be still and know that He is God. Even in the midst of the chaos and the pain, He IS God. And that is the perspective from which the psalmist wrote. If we just look at verse ten, you might think that he was sitting on a beach somewhere (yes!) listening to the lull of the ocean waves. But listen what he says in the first two verses in that chapter:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”

In the middle of the very earth shaking beneath him, or his life being turned upside down, he was reminded to be still and know. In my own quiet times, God did some amazing things.

Renewed My Passion for His Word. “How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey” (Psalm 119:103 NLT). The number one thing that God did for me in the quiet was revive my love for the Scriptures. I clung to His truths and found comfort in them. Holding my Bible in my hands was so precious to me—as dear to me as if my fingers were touching the most valuable gem in all the world. When I was desperate to remember His promises, I reached out to my friends and asked that they share His Word to me. Those cards, posts and text messages meant so much to me. It is true what David said when he wrote, “If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery” (Psalm 119:92 NLT).

Brought Me Peace. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jesus’ words spoken in John 16:33). At the height of the chaos, those days after hearing the word “brain tumor,” I would take many quiet walks in the hospital hallways. I can remember several times during Austin’s rather lengthy surgery when I would leave the crowd gathered around us to be alone with the Lord and my thoughts. I was so scared. Oh, I cannot tell you how many times this year that I prepared myself to lose my beloved son. Yet, it was in these moments alone that the Lord carried me and gave me peace. I would leave the noise behind and catch my breath and refocus. But let me tell you, I didn’t always have peace. Anxiety was (and is) very much a part of my life and the turmoil of my heart, and I also learned that my quiet time can be wasted in worry. Zephaniah wrote, “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love.” Yes, that is what the Lord did for me.

Taught Me Compassion. “Blessed be . . . the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which you were comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). I have a dear, dear friend who tragically lost her little boy shortly before I met her. My heart has been broken for her, and we have shared many tears together. (There is nothing so humbling as praying with someone as their tears fall on your hands.) When all this hit, I remember my heart being broken afresh for her. Although I know I can’t understand her grief completely, my eyes were open to her pain in a new way. God has continued to teach me compassion throughout this year. In the moments of quiet, I have remembered others who were suffering, and my prayers have been full of those who are weary and grieving. I have always tended to be sensitive and cry easily, but I understand things and relate to others now in a way I never could before. And this is for good reason. “Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:7).

(I also had some really great worship sessions, but I wouldn’t necessarily call those quiet. 😉)

Yes, it was in those quiet moments that God sustained me. Like Elijah, He used my time of suffering to draw me away from the noise and near to His side. In 1 Kings 19, the Lord spoke to Elijah, but His voice wasn’t in the great wind, nor the earthquake, not in the fire. The King James Version tell us the Lord spoke to Elijah in a “still small voice” (see 1 Kings 19:11-12). In the quiet, I heard the voice of the Lord whisper to me His promises. He reminded me of His faithfulness and His good character that cannot change. He called me to something deeper, something greater. I will forever cherish those quiet moments spent alone with the Lord.

January 4, 2016

Blasco Memorial Library

Inspiration Playlist: JJ Heller


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