Have you ever found yourself watching a movie and something happens that forces you to need to press the pause button? The phone rings, someone needs a bathroom break or a snack refill. Or mid-movie, one of your children wake up and needs another hug or glass of water. It happens to all of us at one point in time. Both loved and hated, the pause button brings everything to a screeching halt, freezing in time and locking in motion the screen's image.
Life suddenly, instantly, unexpectedly hit the pause button in my world at the beginning of this year. A routine mammogram (which happened to be my first) turned into a suspected "something," that turned into a biopsy showing I had a cancerous lump in my right breast. Big pause in life.
I rang in the new year facing a lumpectomy and some serious down time ahead. This was not a pause I had expected or planned. It hit me full in the face like a bucket of ice water thrown at me, shocking, chilling, startling me from my healthy state of life. Stunned, I spent the two weeks before and after Christmas when I received my diagnosis walking around in a daze. I asked God many honest, gut-wrenching questions. How could this be happening? What did I do wrong? Why didn't You prevent this or at least warn me?
Quietly and gently God reminded me of something. I went to my journal and looked at the dates. He was right. He had been preparing me for this season, for this unexpected life-event. I counted nearly 20 times where He had spoken to me through Scripture given to me from a friend, a coffee mug, a computer screen at work, a blog post, a book, a conversation. I was stunned. I looked back over my journal and saw countless entries from mid-2016 to the end of 2017 where God had so graciously been teaching me this truth: Be still and know that I am God.
During this year, there have been multiple starts and stops, pauses and plays to this season. After surgery, there was a month of radiation treatments that drained my body of any energy I had left. Then came horrible menstrual periods for three months that led to further loss of energy and the ability to function causing me to become severely anemic and needing iron IVs, a blood transfusion, and ultimately a hysterectomy. More pauses, more down time, more healing.
But God has so very graciously continued to teach me what I needed to learn. I am very independent and self-reliant to the point of sin, so this has been a very trying time for me. God has been teaching me to not only be still but to lose all self-reliance and independence turning that desire to control and do and take care of into complete dependence upon Him.
When life hits the pause button, you learn to be still and know or you fight it tooth and toenail and become weary, bitter, and discouraged. God's way is so much more pleasant. I gave in and gave up, which is what He has wanted all along, and I asked Him to teach me how to be still and make the best of the pause. In His patience, He has and still is teaching me how to handle this season.
Here are six things God has shown me when life hits the pause button:
1. Choose to BE STILL and KNOW He is God. The "be still" part is a choice, a decision to stop and know and trust in a good God. It's a choice to dig deeper and get to know God better, based on His timeless character and not on our circumstances (Psalm 37:7, 46:10).
2. Accept God's invitation to hide in Him. He is our refuge, our safe place, our fortress in times of trouble and trials. The book of Psalms is full of invitations to run to Him and hide within the safety of His presence (Psalm 7, 9:9, 34:22, 46:1-3, 57:1-2, 61:1-4).
3. Cultivate a heart of thanksgiving and praise. Remind yourself of the truths about God, that He is good even though life or circumstances often are not. Thank Him for His goodness, love, peace, and life (Psalm 100:4-5, 103:1-5, 106:1, 108:3-4).
4. Choose to trust God in this season. He sees our past, present, and future. He's the Author of our story, the One who holds our days in His hands (Psalm 27:1, 28:7-8, 37:3, 46:5, 62:6-8, 73:23-28).
5. Wait on God. This seems like the hardest thing to do at times, but it can prove to be the most rewarding. Waiting on God removes the pressure off of us to make something happen. He is always working, even though we may not be able to see what He is up to Psalm 27:14, Isaiah 40:27-31).
6. Rest in God and cease from striving. Rest means so much more than napping or sleeping or ceasing from work. It is an inner rest that God invites us to, a rest of the soul that must take place in seasons of pause. It ends the inner fight, the soul-battle, and allows for peace and hope to take center stage (Psalm 27:14, Matthew 11:28-30).
During the pause, take heart, dear woman. God has you in the palm of His great big hand. He sees all that has come to a standstill, He knows the outcome, and He is so very trustworthy. Life will inevitably hit the pause button, but God will see you through this season of intermission. Be still and know. Hide in Him. Thank God for His goodness, and trust in His faithfulness. And while you're waiting on Him, rest in His arms of unending love, comfort, and strength.