Be Still: Finding Peace in Times of Trouble

Be Still_Finding Peace in Times of Trouble_Small-Town Girl at Heart

Originally Published: April 26, 2020

Revised: October 9, 2020

A little more than three weeks ago, I had a panic attack as the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic pressed down on me. Prior to this, I hadn’t given the pandemic much thought. The lockdowns haven’t inconvenienced me all that much since I’d already been working from home when businesses started closing down. On top of that, I’m an introvert, so staying at home for extended periods of time doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, being ordered to stay home has taken off all the pressure of feeling like I need to get out and be social. This is an introvert’s dream come true!

However, the reality of the pandemic hit me fully when I joined an online discussion about the impacts of the pandemic in people’s lives. I started listing my own concerns and worries about how the pandemic is affecting my family and friends, people in my community, and small businesses in my city. Up until this point, I had been maintaining a positive outlook on the situation, but then fear took hold of me, dragging me beneath its black waves.

I started to panic. It wasn’t a full-on panic attack like I’d had in the past, but my heart rate increased, my breathing became heavy, my muscles tensed and I started to cry. I became paralyzed with fear much like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. I spent the next three days grappling with my fear, disappointed with myself for opening the door a crack and letting fear get a foothold. I knew from prior experience that once fear sticks its foot in the door, it’s nearly impossible to shut it out again.

I was sitting on the couch in my basement suite with my Bible, notebook and prayer cards next to me. I should have been working through my daily Bible study, not browsing on Facebook. Had I been obedient to my study and put the phone down, I might not have participated in that online discussion and found myself seized by fear moments later.

After the panic attack started, I should’ve opened my Bible and began reading, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think about anything besides the fear. All I could do was cry. So I did the only other thing I knew to do.

I prayed.

I poured out my heart to my heavenly Father and shared all my fears with him. I cried out to him for help. I asked that his hand be in this situation. I asked for deliverance, provision, safekeeping, and healing for my family and friends, for my community, for the small businesses in my city, and for all the people in the world. I laid out all my fear and concerns at the cross and left it there.

By the time I finished praying, the panic attack had subsided, but I felt drained of all my energy. In fact, I went back to bed and slept for a while. Sometimes it’s the only thing I’m able to do after coming down from a panic attack.

I was still filled with fear the next morning, but I cracked open my study Bible and immediately realized I should have opened it the day before. The topic I was studying that day was titled: “Fear – Shutting God Out.” I took notes as I read the study lesson and looked up the scriptures it referenced.

Be Still_Finding Peace in Times of Trouble_Small-Town Girl at Heart
Be Still_Finding Peace in Times of Trouble_Small-Town Girl at Heart 2020, All Rights Reserved

One of the verses the study referenced was found in Exodus. When I read the verse, I went completely still as I absorbed the words. Then I read it again. And again.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 14:14 NIV

Moses spoke these words to the Israelites when they cried out in fear beside the waters of the Red Sea as the Egyptians gained on them. They had just been delivered by God from Egypt after spending years and years of suffering while in slavery. God led the entire people out of Egypt and guided them to the waters of the Red Sea where he intended to perform a miracle to show his glory to the Israelites and the Egyptians.

The Israelites were afraid when they saw the Egyptians marching on them and they were angry with God for bringing up their hopes only to dash them against the rocks. What was the point? Why did God remove them from their suffering if he was only going to let them die in the desert? He might as well have left them to suffer in Egypt because even their suffering in slavery was better than death.

But God had other plans for the Israelites. He had plans to prosper them and not to harm them, plans to give them hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). And he wanted to teach them that he was for them and they need only to trust him.

So Moses said to the Israelites: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

It was as simple as that.

Be still.

You don’t have to do anything at all.

I will fight for you.

And he did. He split the waters of the Red Sea, defying the very laws of nature, so that the Israelites could cross to safety. Then he vanquished the evil that had been pursuing them by closing the waters over the Egyptians so that none escaped.

The Israelites were saved. Not one of them lost their lives that day. They didn’t even have to raise arms and fight. All they had to do was be still and trust in God for deliverance and walk forward when he instructed them to walk.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

This verse stuck in my mind as I mulled it over again and again throughout the course of the next two weeks. All I could hear in my mind was God speaking these words:

Be still.

I will fight for you.

Do not worry.

Do not be anxious.

I will fight for you.

I’m here.

Soon after, Psalm 23 came to my mind and my heart. This passage had appeared in my Facebook newsfeed the week before when I watched a video made by a woman named Samantha Beach Kiley in which she goes through Psalm 23 as a conversation between us and God (watch it here).

The conversation expresses the rawness of our doubt, fear, questions and our own stubborn will. However, this video is a wonderful reminder that God is with us. God is for us.

Who can be against us?

Romans 8:31 NIV

The words from Exodus 14:14 and Psalm 23 soothed me; they comforted me, so much so that I completely forgot about my fear until my mom and my sister messaged me to see if I was okay after they read the following post I had written on Facebook:

Last weekend, I started to feel the twinges of fear and despair as I discussed with friends my concerns and worries about the impact this pandemic is having on my family, people in my community, and small businesses. For the most part, I’ve been maintaining a positive outlook on this situation, but then fear took hold and pulled me down as I considered the negative impacts.

I spent the weekend fighting back tears, trying to grapple with my fear, and disappointed with myself for opening the door a crack and letting fear get a foothold. Once fear comes in, it’s so hard to shut it out again.

Someone assured me that it’s ok to feel both optimistic and fearful. It’s ok to grieve and mourn over the changes to our schedules, the loss of income, and the uncertainty of the future. We are human, after all.

In the midst of my fear, I’m reminded that I’m not alone during this pandemic and that, despite what happens, I’m loved unconditionally by a Heavenly Father who cares about me and how I feel. And I can lay all my fears and doubts at his feet and find comfort knowing he will be right beside me through it all.

We will get through this pandemic and we will emerge from it all the more stronger in our faith and our love for each other. We will be a changed people.

As you grapple with your own fear, remember this:

You are not alone.

You are loved.

Unconditionally.

Be Still_Finding Peace in Times of Trouble_Small-Town Girl at Heart
Be Still_Finding Peace in Times of Trouble_Small-Town Girl at Heart 2020, All Rights Reserved

I was originally going to write today’s blog post about grief, but after writing the above Facebook post, I felt God’s instruction to write about fear instead, so I noted it on my to-do list: “write blog post about fear.” I had no idea what I was going to write until just before midnight of the morning I started writing. I was trying to fall asleep when God spoke these words to me again:

Be still.

I will fight for you.

Then the words began to flow through my mind. I had even wanted to get up right then and there and write because I was afraid that I would forget the words by morning. But I was so tired. I had had an exhausting week and another bout of fatigue. God assured me, It’s okay to rest. Get some sleep and write when you wake in the morning.

So I slept and woke up in the morning full of energy and ready to write. I had no trouble remembering the words God had spoken to me the night before.

God is in control and he will fight for us! We fool ourselves when we think we’re in control of a situation, because we’re not! We’re only human and it’s time for us to stop trying to play God (see past blog post Control Freak on the subject of control).

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

The beauty of these words is that we don’t have to do anything during this pandemic. We need only to be still and let God fight for us. He loves us because we are his children. We need only to raise our arms to him and cry out, “Papa!” and he will lift us up into his arms and set us down on his knee. He will comfort us and we will find peace and joy again.

Be Still_Finding Peace in Times of Trouble_Small-Town Girl at Heart
Be Still_Finding Peace in Times of Trouble_Small-Town Girl at Heart 2020, Photo Credit: Canva

May these words give you encouragement and fill you with peace as you tackle each new challenge that comes your way during the pandemic. Remember to take it one day at a time and be still as the Lord fights for you.

P.S. I’d like to share a song that inspired me as I wrote this post. It’s called “Peace” performed by Apocalyptica, which is a symphonic metal group of classically trained cellists from Finland. It is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and I played it on repeat during the entire writing process of this blog post. May you also find peace in the beauty of this song as I did.

You are not alone.

You. Are. Loved.

Unconditionally.

I hope you find love, hope and peace in these words.

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