Be Still


It began as a whisper in my soul,

The day my water broke when I was 17 weeks pregnant with our twin girls,

The day the specialist strongly suggested I terminate the pregnancy because it could cost me my life,

The day I held our 21 week-old-gestation baby girl as she took her last breaths in my arms,

The day I watched as they tried to save our 24 week-old-gestation baby girl as she took her last breaths, as they worked to save my life,

The day I stood at the smallest pink casket conceivable and said good-bye to two of my daughters,

The day we decided to fight to adopt our first three girls,

The day our oldest decided to leave our house, mad, two days after she turned 18,

The day our second oldest decided to leave our house in pursuit of a boy,

The days of anger, heartache, and pain after pain as we tried to fix all the broken,

The day I learned I couldn’t,

The day I stood in court and wondered if we would win our battle to adopt our fourth little girl,

The day our oldest told us she was pregnant,

The day our second oldest told us she was pregnant,

The time after time when we have been treated with scorn, when all the anger from their journey gets poured out on us time and time again,

The day after one yells, “I DID NOT CHOOSE YOU.  I HATE YOU!”

The day when once again a child walks away,

The day after what feels like unending drama and unending pain,

The days I wonder what am I doing all this for?

The whisper has grown to a gentle, loud, rhythmic beat in my ears over the years; patiently, unendingly He reminds me…

“Be still, My soul.”

I had no idea it was the title to an old hymn, until just this year.

And then I read through the stanzas for the first time, and wept; I wept at God’s precious love and faithfulness to me; I wept because for the first time I felt like I was truly beginning to understand all that he was saying in just a few words.  I recently read this description of the hymn and it is SO very good: (emphasis mine)

“Life is noisy.  A hymn like “Be Still My Soul” gives me assurance that in the noise of life, my soul is held secure in the silence- silence that goes before and behind me.  In the noise of my emotions or daily work rhythms, the silence between the happenings is a constant.  The silence helps me find my place in the world, to see who I am,  and it makes space for my soul to listen to God.  Even in the most joyful tones of life, as in music, the space between the notes is just as important as the notes themselves.  Hebrew scholar Ellen Davis translates the first verse of Psalm 65 in this way:  “To you, O God, silence is praise.”  Silence is praise?  You mean I don’t have to say or prove anything?  I can just be here, be who I am, where I am, and let the silence envelop me?  Like Job’s declaration of God’s goodness in spite of his personal losses, Katharina echoes:  “Be still, my soul, your Jesus can repay, from his own fullness, all he takes away.”  These are challenging and comforting words, strung disruptively close together.  The challenging part is the reminder that we are not the ones in control.  If space is a kind of loss, the comfort of the stanza is this:  like music notes on a page, we ought to submit ourselves to receive both the notes themselves (like joy) and the space between the notes (like loss) before God.  He, in His fulness, is the Great composer of our souls, moving us in and out of seasons, giving and taking away.  Using both space and melody, He composes our lives into a symphony far more dynamic and beautiful than we ever could have written for ourselves.  Admittedly, we can’t always hear the music that is being written in us.  Sometimes, the people around us can hear the sound more easily than we can.  It’s then that we need our friends to sing it for us and sing it to us.  In a hymn such as “Be Still My Soul,” in both space and melody, we are instructed in the practice of silence and the symphony of grace.  We are encouraged to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:7).  And we are invited to “begin the song of praise.” ~Sandra McCracken

And just in case you have never actually read the stanzas to this hymn,
written by Katharina A. von Schlegel back in 1752, here they are:

“Be Still, My Soul”

1. Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In every change He faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake

To guide the future as He has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;

All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know

His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart

And all is darkened in the vale of tears;

Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,

Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.

Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay

From His own fulness all He takes away.

4. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on

When we shall be forever with the Lord,

When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,

Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.

Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,

All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.