The other day I found a German saying on my Catholic kitchen calendar I did not throw away immediately because it prompted me several times to stop and read it again. Indeed, whenever I reread these words, I feel the confirmation of its truth at once.
“Sit back and do nothing. There is a time when silence heals.” (Gerhard Engelsberger)
Since I do not want to write another entry about the importance of (accepted) suffering for our transformation into the image of Christ, I want to simply tell you something about the prerequisites and the effects of withdrawing from this world’s hectic fussing and ramblings. Actually, it is not only necessary to find a quiet place (which is more difficult in a big city), we need to also nun ourselves from being occupied with everything that does NOT point us to God. Easier said than done, dear brothers and sisters! Whoever tried that before might know how difficult it is. 🙄
I cannot claim to be a prayer heroine, instead, I know I always need God to pull me closer to Himself. Often times I spend a long time sitting on the couch in the living room or lying in bed, keeping my eyes closed while I try to focus on God. Nonetheless, I rather go through another not-yet-jotted-down shopping list in my mind, I worry about situations that most probably never come true, or I surrender to mental reruns of former conversations which also avails to nothing. Yet whenever God comes into play, my normal hamster wheel of thoughts stops although it seems to me that it sometimes keeps turning in the background while God’s calming presence blanks out its pulling effect on me. What I found out lately was that in the midst of suffering deeply, God showed up and poured His peace and overwhelming joy into my heart while the pain of my broken heart did NOT stop. Suffering and joy at the same time? I often read about this phenomenon, however, that was truly new to me. In apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans we read,
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Rom 5:1-5 ESV)
Endurance, aha! That seems to be the goal at the moment since God has used several areas of my life (body, soul, and spirit) where He let me suffer over the last about 20 years. As soon as one particular pain has ended, I do not need to wait for a long time until the next trial or affliction puts me to the test again. Sound familiar? Brothers and sisters, that is the way of the cross, isn’t it?
However, I also wanted to tell you something about how longer prayer breaks without worldly distractions affect us. In fact, the effect 😉 – pun intended – of first outward silence and then (God-given) inward silence that follows spontaneously sooner or later, is something you will NEVER find in this world we live in today. Whether you do-it-yourself or if you seek the help of others, no worries, it works for everyone who longs to find a peaceful escape from our world that is at war with God. Just lately I agreed on a very special effect with a friend of mine, a woman whom I hold in high regard since God used her to speak to me five times meanwhile. Emphatically at that! Whether she offered helpful advice regarding my body pains or some tips concerning our daughter’s particular situation, whenever God spoke through her, I felt joy and peace in my heart. You might wonder whether this woman is a Christian, well, I would say, “I am not sure.” But I know she has known suffering, too, and she is the only one here where I live through whom God spoke that often and that clearly. Oops! I digress. 😊 What I wanted to say was that we agreed that it is a wonderful experience to find rest in our mind, heart, and soul. We both find it hard to get back into normal (crazy) life with its hectic pace afterwards. From slowness and timelessness back to madness, hustle and bustle, so to say. Indeed, we need a longer time to get used to speaking words out loud again. The longer the silence inside has lasted, the more we need to force ourselves to really open our mouth and to speak up again. As strange as that might seem to you, I believe, this is the way to God’s heart as long as we seek Him with honesty in our own hearts. Honesty means here that there is no need to play any religious role as we try to get closer to God. We can be who we are with all this trash on our minds as we try to meet Him. He will sort it all out, for sure! 😉