I woke up suddenly in a sweat while it was still dark. Except for the humming of the oxygen machine, the house was silent. For a moment, I thought I might have time to enjoy a cup of coffee before my son woke up. However, a glance at my daughter’s crib told me that feeding my caffeine addiction would have to wait.
My daughter has a terminal brain disorder called Lissencephaly, a side effect of which is uncontrolled epilepsy. Many mornings, a subconscious recognition that she is having episodes of repeated seizures rouses me from my sleep. Throwing on a robe, I quickly gathered her morning medications. Thankfully, they helped. She fell asleep just as my son came skipping down the stairs.
“Mommy! Did you sleep well?” he asked as I made his breakfast—the first of many questions to come. Once our tasks were complete, he ran upstairs to play, and I retreated to the nursery with my long-desired cup of coffee.
As I watched the sunlight pouring through the windows and felt its warmth kiss my cheeks, I sipped that coffee more slowly than usual. We are in a season of life that contrasts many that preceded it; it forces us to slow down. I chased the next thing for years through academic achievement and life milestones. In less than a decade, I earned three degrees, got married, bought a house, and started a career and a family. I achieved much, but I felt the effects of burnout by the time I reached 30.
With the birth of our daughter came perspective. When you aren’t sure how many years you will have together, you learn to appreciate every small moment—even something as small as a cup of coffee.
Aspects of our story may feel a little too familiar even if you aren’t parenting a child with a disability. The constant hustle. The feelings of burnout. Even in seasons of joy, we often feel a temptation from the world to push for more because for many of us, doing is easier than stillness.
We are a restless creation. The temptation to seek more drove Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, the Israelites to grumble in the wilderness, and Martha to rush about rather than sit with Jesus in her home. This urge to constantly chase the next thing distracts us from what joys lie within the present moment. These distractions steal our attention and reveal a tendency to trust in our own ability to do rather than in what God has already done.
God knows our tendency to be restless. It’s why Scripture reminds us often of the benefits of resting in His provision in all circumstances. God is present with us in hardship. In our seasons of waiting, He carries us. Even Jesus himself called us to let the worries of tomorrow be the worries of tomorrow. In this season of life as the mom of a medically complex child, I’ve witnessed repeatedly how God proves faithful and how we have every reason to trust him. After years of chasing what I thought was good based on the world’s expectations, I’ve found that ultimate peace occurs in his arms, trusting his timing.
God’s plans are perfect, and we see this clearly in the gospel. The death and resurrection of Jesus fulfilled God’s long-awaited promise of redemption for his people. If God can be faithful in conquering the grave, in redeeming us from the shackles of sin and shame, surely we can be confident that he will be faithful in any circumstance we face. It is challenging to trust, especially when we perceive a call to stillness as indifference toward our struggles, but we must understand what happens in the stillness of God’s presence.
The call to be still and to know God isn’t just about comfort in loneliness. The Hebrew word used for “know” in Psalm 46:10, yâdaʻ, refers to familiarity with and knowledge of something through experience. When we are still, the comfort of God isn’t just something we are told, it is something that becomes tangible and personal. Stillness is what allows us to experience the miraculous in even the most mundane or challenging circumstances, to experience the blessings of the present, and to know God more fully.
In embracing stillness, we learn that we can appreciate life’s seasons of joy without rushing to the next one. We learn that God is present with us in all circumstances. In resisting the urge to do, we find the courage to be still, opening our hearts to the ways God reveals himself to us through sanctification. There is joy to be found in the stillness and even in the waiting. That true joy isn’t found in anything we could ever do. It is found in Jesus.