I sat in the cozy chair near my dear friend while she lay in bed dying. Cancer had won the battle, leaving her weak and tired. Visitors came and went, poking their heads in to smile and whisper, “I’ll see you soon.” Sometimes, she opened her eyes and noticed, but mostly she slept. Merciful sleep.
I sat in that chair because she asked me to. “You help me feel calm,” she said. Having spent months in bed myself recovering from a life-saving surgery I understood the comfort of having a close friend nearby even when I was too weak to hold a conversation for more than a few sentences. More than once, I woke to the comfort of a friend reading a book quietly or praying in the chair near my bed. They came to offer their presence.
Simply being near, quiet and still was all the comfort my friend needed. She didn’t need me buzzing around the room fluffing pillows and refilling water bottles. She didn’t need me to read aloud to her when she was too tired to understand words, words, words. What she needed was a friend to be still with her.
I wanted to be still with her so I sat in that chair for hours, something that would have made me restless a few years ago. That was before I learned to enjoy being still. It takes courage to be still, doing nothing, only being present. But that’s exactly what a friend does.
A friend joins you in your fears and your weaknesses and stays to help bring stillness to your soul. This is the gift our friend Jesus offers us. He offers His presence with us in our fears and our weakness. He offers the reminder that we are not alone. He offers us His peace when we have nothing to offer back but gratitude.
The tricky part about stillness is learning to slow the pace of our lives down so that we have space to be still and receive the comfort of being with Jesus. When the culture around us prizes full calendars, it takes courage to block out time to be with an invisible God. But there is infinite value in doing just that.
I’ll admit, I didn’t see the value of being still until God showed it to me personally. During my long recovery, my body demanded that I do nothing but heal. The stillness was uncomfortable at first. Between frequent naps, I tried reading, watching TV, and hand-stitching. Nothing soothed my soul. I felt antsy, like my mind was wasting time while my body did what it needed to do.
Slowly, I became aware of a soothing process shaping my soul. The loneliness I felt as I was forced to stay in bed while my family went about their normal routines began to lift. Through the encouragement of friends, scriptures, and worship music, I felt the presence of God and it brought deep contentment. I began to look forward to my daily cup of coffee on my back patio as an appointment with Jesus. Stillness became beautiful, no longer uncomfortable.
Somehow, I had missed the promises linked to stillness that are written throughout the Bible.
“Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored among every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” – Ps 46:10
“The Lord will fight for you while you keep still.” – Ex 14:14
“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!” – 1 Sam 12:16
“But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.” – Ex 14:13
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” – Ps 62:5-6
Once I learned the value of stillness, I began to schedule times of stillness into my daily routines. Walks in the early mornings became times to talk with God. Coffee breaks became time to enjoy His creation and be reminded that I am loved…broken body and all. Nightly Bible readings before bed became time to give God the last words in my day.
It is in stillness that we are reminded of the presence of God and are filled with His comfort. The more we practice being still, the more we long for it. It is no longer a forced, uncomfortable practice. It is a retreat and a delight.
If you struggle with being still, if it’s new to you or causes you discomfort, know that you are not alone. Being still and enjoying God’s presence is a skill that takes practice. But even in this, you are not alone. Begin by asking God for help to be still. “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” Psalm 107:29 If He can calm a storm to bring comfort to His disciples, He can certainly calm your soul to bring comfort to your heart.
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To learn more about Nicole:
Nicole O’Meara encourages Christian women living with rare and chronic to endure with hope. She believes 10:30am is the perfect time for a latte and books are better with chocolate. She lives in Northern California with her three children, two brought home through adoption, her coffee-roasting husband, and one sweet Aussiedoodle. Nicole is a a Devotion Writer for Joyful Life Magazine. You can connect with Nicole on her website and Instagram.
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