Being the Stillness
Bonnie Grove, She Reads Featured Author

"Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great." Job 2:13 (NASB)

I have sought comfort in the book of Job many times in my life. After I buried my infant son, I asked, "Why?" God reminded me that when Job asked the same question His answer was, "Who?"

While laying on a hospital bed knowing for certain I would lose the twins I had carried only a few precious months, God reminded me how in the midst of Job's suffering, God came. And in the whirlwind He answered. Not right away, not in Job's time, but in God's time – the perfect time when Job's heart could take in the words of healing.

In the years following those dark events, I trained in theology, counseling and psychology. I was on a quest to understand my brokenness, and that of others. I'm still on that quest, though my formal training is behind me.

One evening, I was in conversation with a man who was going through a divorce and was in obvious pain. He spoke of his daughter, and how his hopes for the future had been destroyed. When he finished speaking I sat in silence, knowing I had no great words to offer. Spent from telling his story, he too sat quietly.

Our silence stretched into minutes. Then, the man began to cry. I sat with him, keeping his tears company, and still said nothing. More minutes passed, and the man said, "That's the first time I've cried since this whole mess started." Then he said something surprising: "You've helped me so much. Thank you."

The silence had changed something for him. From my perspective, the silence was a result of my limitations as a counselor – I was empty handed. But it became clear to me there was something powerful at work. I remembered how Job's friends sat in silence with him for seven days and nights. With that in mind, I began to pay close attention to silence. I found that by being quiet, I could better understand my thoughts, fears, hopes, and desires. And in my long silences I was able to sense God's presence and hear His voice. When I sat with the man going through a divorce I listened to him without interruption. Then, by saying nothing, I helped him listen to what God had to say to him.

There are astounding lessons to be learned from the act of listening. I have learned that listening is an act of love. It is not passive; it is intentional, engaging with the heart and mind of another person. To listen you must turn off all outside distractions; say "no" to the world rushing by you. A sacred act of deliberate silence and meaningful pause, listening helps people clear a space in their life, heart, and mind in order to simply "be." Our listening is an important gift. I am learning to make it my first response. Through listening I want to provide the stillness God speaks into.

Dear Lord, bring me into a deeper silence before You, that I may hear Your voice, and in hearing, believe, and in believing, listen to the heart of others. When people hurt Lord, let me first offer them my listening, not my advice. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit with Bonnie today, where she will be a guest at the She Reads blog

Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove is a She Reads winter selection. Head over to the She Reads blog today for a chance to win a copy of the novel, plus an iPod Nano loaded with the songs Bonnie listened to while writing her book.

When Your Marriage Dies: Answers to Questions about Separation and Divorce by Laura Petherbridge

Find encouragement in God’s peace on today’s Radio Show - How Difficulties Affect Us

Application Steps:
Practice stillness in your prayer life. Sit quietly; offer the sacrifice of love by listening long to what the Lord has to say to you today.

Practice stillness in your relationships. Begin to pay attention to the silences around you and offer yourself to a friend through the act of listening.

Reflections:
Do you believe God will meet you in your silence?

Can you recall a time when you listened as an act of love to a friend or family member?

Power Verses:
Habakkuk 2:20, "But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him." (NASB)

Psalm 46:10-11, "Be still and know that I am God….The LORD Almighty is with us." (NIV)

© 2009 by Bonnie Grove. All rights reserved.

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14 Comments:

Blogger sam said...

Thank you...this has really blessed me.

Anonymous Sydney said...

This was totally orcharstrated by God! I realize that we are not there yet. God has to show us ourselves so that we can heal and grow and become what he has called us to be. This devotion pointed out my weakness. Thank you Lord that your strength is made perfect in my weakness. Understanding what I am missing in my prayer life and my relationships helps me to grow closer to the Lord. Thank you again and I will exercise silence when ever possible. I can't lie and say it won't be a challenge because I am a talker but I will challenge myself to do as God desires me to do. Blessings.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i pray that i can be silent and be still when i need to.
thank you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

my depression seems to be coming back and it's the middle of the night i wake up and can't turn off the thoughts and fears in my head. how do you learn to be silent and focus on the lord and what he says? thank you for your words it makes me think i still have work to do and that CAN be done for me.

Anonymous Ramona said...

Thank you so much with this message or scripture in "Job." Most of us have an hard time in just "listening" Hearing this this morning, I now see where I've been doing wrong, even tho I thought I was helping. "Being the Stillness" and be quiet & just listen is more important in alot of ways. I truly agree & thank you for sharring. A Mothers Heart

Blogger Bonnie Grove said...

Sam- Thank you for stopping by. Peace.

Sydney: Isn't it neat how God arranges the pieces to accomplish moments of beauty and peace. I'm a talker too - I relate to that BIG time. Practice and being intentional will make a difference over time. It's a skill you can learn and God will teach you.

Anonymous: I'm praying that prayer with you, friend.

Anonymous: I'm impressed you are able to understand the changes happening in your mood and thinking and understand what it is. Well done!! I pray you are able to have a conversation about depression with your health care provider. Depression is chemical - that means you need to go easy on yourself, and be kind to yourself while you are working toward healing. Be silent for short times - and be sure to acknowledge the positive steps you are taking even if they seem very small. They are steps - and that is what is important. Praying for you and your journey today, my friend.

Ramona: I bet you were helping a great deal - and when you add intentional listening to the other helping things you do, it is a wonderful and powerful thing.

Blogger Bonnie Grove said...

Don't forget to scoot on over to She Reads - I've upgraded the giveaway from a journal to an iPod nano jammed with lots of fun music, and info about me, writing life, and a personal message for the winner!

Blogger Llyndze Elizabeth said...

Thank you!
I had a young boy who was hurting from his grandmother passing away, and there are other issues at home going on. He started to cry and I didn't know how to comfort him, or what to say...so me and the other boys in the sunday school class just sat there with him, they comforted him by laying hands on him, and we all prayed....then after we sat there, I thought myself to be a bad teacher cause I didn't have wise words to comfort this boy with, I started searching in my head for something...but got nothing. I've been struggling with this all night, Then This morning I read this blog, and God showed me through your experience and words that it's ok to be silent...cause thats when we can hear God the most and clearest.
Thank you for allowing God to use you!
-Llyndze

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I just received a call from a friend whose husbands ex wife committed suicide today. She is very angry and doesn't know what to say to her husband or his grown sons. Then I received this in my email. I am thanking God as I believe this is a timely word for her in this situation.
Blessings

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was 17 and a kid in Iowa, I worked until midnight one November weekend, as a waitress. I stopped at an all-night truckstop to get gas before going home. (This was 1977, there wasn't an any all-night anything back then!)

While using the bathroom, I heard someone crying, just outside. When I opened the door, a girl was sitting on the curb with her shoulders slumped, I knew it was her.

I sat down and asked if she was OK. She told me she had been kidnapped by 4 men from Minnesota. They had raped her and kept her trapped with them for days. She was able to get away and had run through corn fields to hide and get away from them. She said she had been running for miles.

I knew she was telling me the truth. Mud covered her, she had no shoes in November, in Iowa, weeds were in her hair and she was covered with bleeding scratches on her face and arms.

I asked if she knew how to get home and she told me she called her brother and he was on his way from Minnesota to pick her up. I knew it would be 3 hours before he arrived.

I sat with her awhile, gave her my sweater and kept her company. I wanted to bring her home with me but she was scared and didn't want to move until her brother arrived. I could tell she was hanging on by her last thread.

I hated leaving her...my own dad was abusive, had raped my sister a year prior to this, and I KNEW I wouldn't be able to explain why I had brought a strange girl home...and I felt soooo futile and useless.

But before I left, I told her I would pray for her safety, and then told the station attendant she was there and in trouble. I explained she had been kidnapped and was waiting for her brother to come but it would be several hours before he arrived.

And relunctantly I went home. And I left feeling like a failure.

I'm 49 now. I've thought of her many times, and said a prayer. And just now, reading your devotion I thought of her again.

Thank you for helping me forgive myself. for these 30 years I felt like I abandoned her and I've worried about her. I remember she wasn't slumped over when I left, and she had more strength in her voice.

God thank you for letting me be there to listen. Thank you for sending me to that gas station, it was not a coincidence. Thank you for sending someone to her who could empathize, if only I could have stayed longer!

Thank you Pro31, the Lord uses you to speak to me, and He reaches the deepest part of my heart.

Christine in NC

Blogger Bonnie Grove said...

Llyndze: What a wonderful testimony of God’s love – for the boy, for you, and even for me, someone removed from the situation. I am humbled. He is so good.

Anonymous: Praying for that situation – and for you, that God will use you to be an oasis. Thank you for your transparency.

Christine: I’m deeply moved by your story. Thank you so much for sharing it with me – with us. I’m so glad you have found some peace today. I can only imagine how overwhelming it was for a young person to face such a sudden and terrible dilemma. I’m thanking God with you that He sent you there to listen. You heard her story, you believed her, you cared for her.
Peace, my friend.

Blogger Kathleen Popa said...

Bonnie, this was beautiful and wise. Thank you.

Anonymous Judy S said...

Listening and offering a hug leaves the biggest footprints of Gods love.It opens up peoples heart also their trust and love to him.

Blogger Carla Gade said...

This was a beautiful devotional, Bonnie. I so appreciate your sharing from your personal experiences and the wisdom you gained through them.

Blessings,
Carla

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