“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV)
Do you ever feel like your circumstances are shouting so loudly and with such insistence that it’s difficult to hear anything else? How do you quiet your mind during times of increased pain so that you are able to hear the “gentle whisper” of God’s voice? This is the subject I felt the Lord wanted us to consider this week, as I was praying for direction for today’s Teach Me Tuesday post.
This last month has been unusually difficult for me. First, I noticed my left knee was hurting so badly that just making it from my bedroom to the living room caused severe pain and swelling. This was a drastic change, after several months of increasing my walking to the point where I was able to manage thirty minutes of walking most days with little pain. Then a couple days later, I added new symptoms, this time with my digestive system. And the process of trying to get some answers concerning what was going on began. After a doctor’s visit, lab work and several x-rays of my knee, I still don’t know much more than I did before I saw my doctor. More tests are being scheduled, but how do I stay where I need to be in my relationship with the Lord during this time of waiting.
I’m not sharing this so you will feel sorry for me. Since my writing ministry focuses on helping those who deal with the daily challenges of living with chronic illness, I know many of you understand the frustration I’m currently dealing with. So for today’s post, the question on my heart is an important one: how do we live with such physical and medical challenges and still quiet the clamor in our minds so that we can hear the “gentle whisper” of God’s voice and come out of our times in His presence strengthened to face another day?
Personally, I hear God’s voice best when I’m taking time to read and study His Word. Some days, the distractions may mean I can only read a few verses, but I’ve learned to pick up my study Bible or Bible app and my current journal and turn the passage I’m reading into a prayer. This morning I did that with Psalm 23, a passage most of us are very familiar with, but by the time I finished those few verses and read some verses listed as cross references I was strengthened to face another day.
I was reassured that the Lord is my Good Shepherd, and He will meet all my needs. With Him, I will lack no good thing (Psalm 34:9,10). I prayed for the Lord to lead me to restful waters, even in the midst of these new health problems. I thanked the Lord that we are now through the valley of the shadow of death that we entered last November when our precious David graduated to his heavenly home, even though we still miss him daily, moving forward into the next things He has for us to do. I asked Him to continue to lead us into the new things He has for our family. Reflecting on His help during this time of loss encouraged me to trust He will also be with me as I walk through this time of unknowns. And I rejoiced that His rod and staff remind me He has been with me and will continue to be with me regardless of what lies ahead of us. And I closed my time with a prayer of gratefulness that His goodness and mercy will follow me all the remaining days of my life on this earth, and then I will dwell with Him for eternity. I left my quiet time with the quiet assurance that I had heard God’s voice and was ready to move forward.
On this Teach Me Tuesday, let’s share some ways we have learned to quiet the clamour of our minds caused by difficult circumstances and daily life with chronic illness. How have you learned to quiet your mind during the painful times of life, to shut out the distractions so that you are able to hear the “gentle whisper” of God’s voice?
Reading this reminded me of something I read a long time ago: that constant or severe pain is like having a fire siren going off right next to you. You can’t concentrate on anything else because the sound of the siren [i.e. the pain] is all-consuming. I certainly found it so before I was prescribed with effective pain-inhibitors and good migraine relief. My quiet time is still affected by my pain. Sometimes if I have a migraine brewing I find I just can’t focus on my Bible or prayer. Even though I try.
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Helen, I like your description of pain being like a fire siren going off right next to you. So hard to ignore. I try to read at least a few verses in my Bible every day, but the amount I cover and the depth of study is definitely affected by pain.
Yes, its a very effective description. Its a long time since I heard it ,but I have never forgotten it. I find with migraine sometimes its impossible to concentrate enough to focus.