Peace, Be Still

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9 (NKJV)

I had a rather unusual experience at work towards the end of last week.  In the course of my job, I travel from floor to floor with my computer and all my worldly goods on a cart, much like a “gypsy.”  My challenge is always to find a place to work: a corner, a chair, and a place to plug in.  As I am a visitor to the nursing units that I cover, I have no designated spot where I can audit the medical records I must review each day. Generally, I try to sit in the same place so that, if I am reviewing a chart that is needed by a doctor or another nurse, they know where to find me.

On one my units, the nursing director put a large display in the place where I would normally sit, so I had to go hunting for another place to work–something of a challenge in a place where space is always at a premium.  I found myself sitting at the end of a hallway just opposite the doorway to some stairs; not a bad place to work. It was quiet, out of the way, and yet visible.

As I returned to my newly found “office” after returning a chart that I had just finished, I sat down and became aware that something was different. There was a palpable stillness in my little corner of the world–nowhere else on the unit, just there. As I was puzzling over what I was sensing, recognition began to dawn on me: this was God’s peace so profound that it was physically palpable. I hadn’t been looking for it, I hadn’t been expecting it, and yet there it was: a gift far more precious than I could have imagined.

These past two and a half years have been extremely difficult for our family. Long periods of unemployment for my husband, punctuated by all too short bursts of contract work, have left us financially devastated.  There is no way to describe the terror, humiliation, and shame associated with the harassing letters and phone calls, threats of foreclosure, and the inability to provide for more than our daughter’s basic needs. In addition, we were betrayed by a good friend, who stole a business idea that would have resolved our financial issues.

We are not alone these days. Many others have gone through (or are still going through) what we have. There is an old saying: “If you are going through hell, keep going!” So many times we considered just making it to the end of each day a major victory.

I know the tide has turned and the season has changed for us, even though things may not appear that much different on the surface. I know that we are now standing on the back side of this “wilderness experience.” I can “smell” the change of season in the air, just as I used to be able to tell that Fall was coming as a girl growing up in Wisconsin: there was something detectable in the air, something that told me autumn was on our doorstep.

I know it is the love of God that allowed us to go through the experiences of these past two and a half years. We are not the same people we were then. We are grateful for that.  God allows tests and trials into our lives to grow and prove our faith. Our faith is precious to Him.  As we press into Jesus during those hours in the middle of the night when we can’t sleep, our faith is tried and proven. Our faith becomes an offering of praise to the God who sustains us even during our darkest hours.

At the end of each day, everything is about bringing praise, honor, and glory to Jesus. We need to be grateful for even those small things which God provides for us every day; those things we so often take for granted. We must come to the place where, no matter what is going on around about us, we are able to say like the old hymn: “It is well with my soul.”  It is there that the “peace that passes all understanding” resides. It is there that our faith grows and brings honor to God. It is there that we are sustained and upheld in His righteous right hand.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Hymn by Horatio Spafford; Composed by Phillip Bliss

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-8 (NKJV)

Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved