Still, My Soul Be Still

You may have noticed the long time gaps between my posts, and wondered why I haven’t been continuing any of the different ongoing series I’ve started. These last few months it seems that for the most part my energy has gone towards simply bearing up under ongoing burdens that began over four years ago. There have been times when I’ve wondered how much pain and grief a person could bear. If you’ve kept up with my posts you’ve known some of the details. What follows is a description of my and my family’s experience of the last few years. We are still waiting to see how our own situation will work out, trying to be faithful and to take note of any little good thing which happens and seeking daily for endurance.

Over four years ago, just after Thanksgiving, one of my doctors told me I needed a cochlear implant. This was an unexpected shock because I’d become used to a stabilized plateau of hearing. In my post, Sweeter Than Honey, you can catch up on background on my initial loss of hearing. This news was a challenge to trust God with loss sooner and far greater than I expected.

I’d barely regained a shaky sense of balance when I became immersed in a difficult church situation that became more and more toxic. In Matthew 23–25: Spiritual Pretense & Spiritual Reality and Ezekiel 31–36: Domineering Shepherds & Scattered Sheep you can find some of  my thoughts on the pain and betrayal I experienced while living through and then pulling out of a murky mess of spiritually abusive authoritarian control.

And again I’d barely regained some sense of spiritual balance and trust in the Lord when the economy blew apart and my husband’s business stagnated. We worked to keep the business going, but to no avail, and so my husband had to close things down and look for other work. We had one child who had just finished college, and another who as a high school senior was taking courses at the local community college while we finished other work in our home school. I was busy with him and with helping my husband with his applications. As has happened with so many others these last few years, there were a few interviews with promise, but no offers.

Things became so difficult financially that we could no longer maintain our own household, and my mother graciously opened her home to us. This meant a move from one area to another and giving away, throwing away household goods and making overwhelming decisions as we sorted through things and managed to get some things stored in about four or five difference places with friends or family. Through the process our family experienced shock, disorientation and grief, and at one point I was hospitalized with symptoms of a heart attack, but thankfully it turned out to be an unexplained reaction to the severe stress we were under.

There were two pastors from two different churches who barely knew us, but who were with us during that time. One ministered at a church we were visiting and the other was teaching a Bible study our son attended with friends. I had one friend locally who helped me and visited me, another who prayed with me, and yet another who drove from an hour away several times to assist us. Friends, some of whom I’ve met only online, helped us pay for food and truck rental as we shifted things around. The second pastor had people from his church help us—these people didn’t even know us—and this was balm to my being. Our son even lived with the second pastor and his family for over a year so that he could finish his work at the community college.

So yet again, I was struggling to maintain balance and trust when we moved to the town in which I grew up. Here I faced another shock. I was expecting a place of healing and rest among Christians whom I had known for literally years, but here I was met with a passive rejection of neglect and assumptions by others about what I needed to hear rather than consideration of who I was and what I really needed.

My husband, and I as well, continued looking for work, applying, and interviewing and knowing the heartbreak of coming close to a position, without obtaining it. There were several things that happened that broke my heart when I thought it couldn’t be broken any further. A couple of people whom I had known for decades refrained from giving me a helping hand with finding work, and this was a devastating shock. Someone I thought was my friend walked out of my life. We also were in a small group at which, during two meetings in a row, I broke down and cried when requesting prayer. The first week no one said anything to me afterwards. The second time one woman patted me on the back, but only one other offered any concrete help. I asked her to pray with me weekly, which we did for a while and then she told me it was too much for her to see my suffering. She also told me that some of the women had discussed what they could do to help me feel less isolated. It seems I was only an object of conversation, because I never heard from any of them. There are other stories of abandonment and judgment I could tell you. I’ve about decided that it can be an unforgivable sin in an American church to be unemployed.

And all this took place against a backdrop of previous loss of my hearing, other lengthy illnesses, the death of my brother to AIDS, and afflictions of varying intensity due to my Christian beliefs. The shock of the last few years piled on top of those events of prior years hit, and I was slammed into storms of doubt such as I had never known; I have never had to keep going with such little comfort. I’ve had to watch and question what would happen to us and to our children and whether or not we would survive intact emotionally or in our faith in God.

I would have gone under without the handful of Christians who have stayed with us through the long haul, loved us and been willing to walk beside us through this valley. A couple of my friends live hundreds of miles away so I don’t get to see them face to face. In Journey Through The Storm I outlined some of these details and my struggle to trust God in the maelstrom.

In Suffering & Lovingkindness I wrote that the love we show for one another provides flesh and blood witness to His goodness even when our circumstances would tell us otherwise, and tempt us to doubt Him. Do you know what it’s like to try to trust that God is good and He has a loving purpose in affliction when you feel unloved and uncared for by fellow believers? It has been, of all things, most difficult for me. Tragedy or betrayal can be mitigated by those who know and love you with their assurance of your place in their life. They turn your upside down world right side up. I’ve desperately need that stability of love when so many bad things have happened and kept on happening that I came to the point that I didn’t want to see the mail, I flinched when the phone rang, and I was apprehensive that every closed door or changed tone of voice means disaster, and the first words out of my mouth have been, “Did something bad happen?”

I found the song Still, My Soul Be Still by Keith & Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend, in the early hours of this morning in a post done by Julie Anne. The words describe my faltering struggle in grief and rejection that at times has overwhelmed me. I’ve know those raging winds of change and the dread of fires of unexpected sorrow to the extent of expecting all sorrows. This is a battle of trust in God for me, and I need to hear someone else sing a prayer for a steadfast heart.

Have you known what it’s like to be shaken by lesser lights and fleeting shadows? I have, and the shadows have seemed not fleeting, but permanent. The rain of flaming arrows has been so constant, my shield arm has felt broken, and I need a fellow believer to encourage me to hold to God’s ways. Do not forsake the Truth you learned in the beginning—brought back memories of my early days as a Christian of what I heard, learned, and believed, of those who loved and nurtured me, and of God’s love for me and of my first love for Christ.

I used this video because of it reminds me of God declaring to Job His wisdom, justice, and power in the display of the wonder of His creation,1 and the first time the phrase, and I will trust in You and not be shaken, is sung, you see a mountain goat on a rocky ridge, reminding me of Habakkuk, and the post I did on that book last fall.

Still, my soul be still, and do not fear though winds of change may rage tomorrow.
God is at your side, no longer dread the fires of unexpected sorrow.

God, You are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace renew a steadfast spirit within me to rest in You alone.

Still, my soul be still, do not be moved by lesser lights and fleeting shadows.
Hold onto His ways with shield of faith against temptation’s flaming arrows.

God, You are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace renew a steadfast spirit within me to rest in You alone.

Still, my soul be still, do not forsake the Truth you learned in the beginning.
Wait upon the Lord and hope will rise as stars appear when day is dimming.

God, You are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace renew a steadfast spirit within me to rest in You alone.

Without God, I—and you—will fall and never arise. May God give us grace to wait and hope. May He multiply His mercy and peace and love to you and to me.

__________
In this video of the New Irish Choir and Orchestra, the choir only sings the first and third verses, but I’ve posted it because the arrangement is so lovely.

Boom, Wilfredor: GNU Free Documentation License Version 1.2 or any later version, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.
1See my reference to E. S. P Heavenor, “Job,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, 3rd ed., D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 442—443, in Trusting God’s Love In The Darkness.

Original content: Copyright ©2012 Iwana Carpenter

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This entry was posted in Adversity, Christian Life, Church, Comfort, Compassion, Courage, Encouragement, God, Grace, Holy Spirit, Hope, Jesus Christ, Love, Mercy, Music, Peace, Perilous Times, Personal Distress, Spiritual Abuse, Suffering, Truth and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Still, My Soul Be Still

  1. INC says:

    If you can’t see the YouTube video, it may be because YouTube link is http rather than https. You may need to reset your browser to temporarily allow the link.

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