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Safe in the Silence

How do you feel in silence? For most of my adolescence, silence felt scary. It was unsettling and unnatural. Silence felt like I needed to be ready to prepare to protect myself. Silence usually indicated abandonment. It gave me a hyperawareness of my surroundings. Silence didn't feel golden. Silence felt like a space I needed to fill to feel safe.

This year, in my journey of hope, I am asking God to help me explore and restore in 2024. So when I was facing a space of silence today and feeling rather triggered, I decided to explore how I could feel safe in silence. I considered the Prophet Elijah when he was in a cave among the cliffs, feeling isolated and afraid for his life.

"Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord , the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword.

And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord .” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9-13)

God's voice was present in the silence. God met Elijah where he was, in his fear and despair. He didn't shame Elijah for his lack of faith or justifiable fear for his life. God demonstrated his power but showed up as a gentle wind blowing. Elijah wouldn't have heard God in the chaos, but God was found in the stillness and quiet.

Part of my journey of hope rising again is in the bravery I must have to believe there can be good where there has only been bad. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) It is easy to anticipate fear and despair in the silence, but what about hope? How do I turn my face to light where it was only once focused on the dark shadows of fear? One decision at a time.

As an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACOA), I spent many years surviving but thinking it was living. I would accept things at face value, even when they didn't seem to make sense in my life today. So silence and resilience must become friends in my life if I am going to see hope rise from the ashes of despair. As I began to let these thoughts rest in my heart, I considered some of my favorite verses and realized how many of them offer comfort in silence.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalms 46:10)

Stillness embraces silence.

'He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.' (Psalms 23:2-3)

God is there in the stillness.

This is what the Sovereign Lord , the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. (Isaiah 30:15)

Why do I struggle with rest and quietness? If God most High loves me and guides me, what is it in my heart that wrestles in the silence? It's simply that I am human and in my humanity I must admit my lack of faith. In my human weakness, I lose sight of his love. In his arms, I find I am safe in the silence. I have a place of rest for my soul. I can simply trust He is there, even when life is deafeningly silent, he isn't.

In the safe silence I find hope to rise again, and it is well with my soul.

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