It’s the longest 52 minutes of my life every single time we enter that room.
It would be easy to blame it on the chill of the air or the stiffness of the chair, but I rather think it has more to do with the lack of distraction. For safety, one must leave all possessions outside of the scan room. No phones. No books. Absolutely nothing goes in, leaving me with the deafening noise of the machine and a train wreck of thoughts for 52 very long minutes.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t like to be alone with my thoughts in moments like these. Busy is the easiest way to keep yourself from replaying scenes of pain or possibilities of much worse. If you can do something… anything… life’s hard moments seem much easier to bear. But the scan room has no mercy.
Through the earplugs, the machine’s pulsing and booming seem to cry out in tones of injustice. I cover the cries in prayer, knowing that every fiber of my being trusts what the Lord has for us in this, just as I’ve done for the other 5 MRIs we’ve had this year.
Usually, I find it easy to stifle the fear with hymns and promises etched not in my phone or my Bible, but in my soul.
But this 52 minutes was different. At first I prayed over my sweet 7-year-old as I watched his body roll in and out of the machine before me. Then I remembered the prayer he uttered moments before we entered the room. It wasn’t for the tumor to be gone or for no more chemo. In fact, it wasn’t about him at all. He prayed instead for friends and family who still have no power from Hurricane Irma.
As I sat there recounting his prayer and his sweet little heart, I became overwhelmed at the condition of our country. Honestly, I’m not really the news watching type and have only studied current events when my grade depended on it. But right now, it seems difficult to ignore. Less than a week ago, my Facebook feed was flooded with hundreds of friends from my hometown in Florida fearing the worst as they braced for Hurricane Irma. A week before that it was Texas and Hurricane Harvey.
Add to the list massive wildfires out west, earthquakes, and school shootings, and it’s no wonder our country is feeling desperate. It’s no wonder we feel anxious as each new storm is named or each school shooting revealed.
“How do you comfort and bring hope to a dying world?”
I sat there in the stiffness, shaking from chill, and I couldn’t help but ask myself this question over and over again. I wondered how to help people understand that while life is most definitely hard sometimes, we have an incredible hope. I wondered how to help people trust God with the little stuff that is consuming them to the point of despair. In the wondering, my mind settled on the story of the old hymn, It is Well With My Soul.
Always one of my favorites, every word of this hymn flows freely from memory. But the story is one few can forget. Horatio Spafford and his wife were no strangers to the pain of this fallen world. In 1871, they lost a son to pneumonia and their business to an unforgiving fire. Barely two years later, while attending to unexpected business matters, Horatio lost all four of his daughters in a tragic shipwreck during a storm.
It’s hard to fathom how you go on when everything seems lost. But Horatio, much like Job, knew one little secret we often miss in moments like these. As he sailed across the very spot where his daughters died, to meet his surviving wife, Horatio penned the words of a poem. Words that would eventually be sung for hundreds of years by people like you and me when life bellows the cries of injustice.
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Oh the beauty of God’s truth! No, we don’t have the promise that everything will be perfect or that life will be free from sorrow. But we do have the promise that EVERYTHING is well with our soul. Whatever we face, the promise of Heaven still remains. Whatever we do, there is still grace upon grace.
Can you possibly imagine writing those very words in such a horrific moment? For most of my life I would have been unable. Unwilling even. Yet through my own extensive list of heart-breaking sorrows, I’ve learned that God is truly faithful. There is deep peace in this truth and indescribable comfort both during those 52 minutes of what many cancer patients call “scanxiety,” and through the many other waves that threaten to drown us.
Whatever my lot, it is well with my soul.
Which leaves me to wonder about you. My friend, I cannot tell you how much I want this peace for you. Is it well with your soul? Are you trusting God with the moments in your life that leave you breathless? Will you give Him your fears?
I’m not saying it’s easy. Only that it’s worth it.
5 Ways to Find Peace in the Storm
Meditate on Truth
Meditating on truth is simply placing your focus on it. Rehearsing it over and over again. Isaiah 26:3 promises if our minds are “stayed on” Christ, He will keep us in perfect peace. Our day is FULL of lies and half-truths about God. It’s impossible to drown them out. We must be about the business of purposely combating them with God’s truth.
Sometimes we make that process much more than it is. God is constantly teaching us. It’s a daily process we have the PRIVILEGE of participating in. So sit down and bask in His Word every single day. Write down what you learn. Meditate on those truths; memorize the promises. It really is that simple. No, it won’t seem like a magic trick at first… because it’s not. But I promise you it works.
If you need help, download these free Scripture Printable cards and study the promises section first. Just look up the verse listed on the card and read it. Try reading surrounding verses, too. Note anything you love about what it says, something you learn, or how you see God in this passage. I usually do this in the margins of my Bible, but some people love keeping journals, too.
Spam Yourself with Truth Reminders
Once you know the truth and you’ve spent time meditating on it, find ways to spam yourself with it. Ha ha. I’m serious though. I’ve put verses in my car, on the mirror, on my desk, in books I’m studying. If you might look there, it’s a great place to post some truth you want to focus on.
I’ve also resorted to posting key verses as screen savers on my phone or computer. I’ve worn them on my shirt. I’ve even plastered them on my water bottle!
When Luke was first diagnosed with brain cancer, I wore my #NotConsumed shirt literally every single day. It was a constant reminder to me that no matter what happened at doctor’s appointments and chemo infusions, we could live #NotConsumed.
When I started forgetting water, well, I brought a water bottle as a reminder, too.
Recently, I’ve uploaded a wallpaper to my phone, so I have a constant reminder. I’d love for you to have it, too. Click on the image and save it to your phone. Then you can set it as the wallpaper.
Don’t panic if you aren’t the singing type. I’m not suggesting a solo at church or anything. But I can’t ignore the fact that music is powerful. In 2009, when my husband first left, I knew a good bit about studying the Bible, but I couldn’t find the motivation to do it. I didn’t even know where to go for the kind of help I needed. Truly, half of the time, I couldn’t see through the tears to even read my Bible.
So I sang. Sometimes just songs I had in my heart from years of church attendance. Sometimes songs I would play from the local station. I eventually started a playlist on YouTube and then Apple Music to have at my fingertips the moment I needed encouragement.
I have to tell you, I am amazed at how some hymns and songs have carried me through the darkest moments. In Psalm 42:8 God says, “By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” One of my favorite verses, this promise has held me tightly through many dark nights.
So has the hymn that started this post. It is Well has encouraged me countless times. I have loved it since I was a kid and loved it even more once I knew the story behind it. Which reminds me, if you would like to learn more stories behind the greatest hymns, check out this popular study.
Surround Yourself with Godly People who Constantly Remind You of the Truth
There is nothing worse than having a bad day and then having to listen to someone else spew not-so-encouraging words at you. While we can’t control every single voice in our lives, we can make sure we are surrounded by godly people who are reminding us of truth.
We need others. We can’t do this alone. Finding community is one of the most crucial things we do in this life. If you aren’t surrounded by people who love and support you right now, read this post and start searching for your community.
The last thing I want to do when life is rough is read or study more about my particular situation. Might be a weird response, but over the years I’ve found it helpful. Why focus on what you can’t change? Really, the only thing to focus on is God.
As a homeschool mom, I started reading missionary biographies to my kids through this series. It was just an educational agenda at first, but I quickly saw the tremendous value in reading about the lives of these saints.
Not only is it encouraging to know that all of God’s children walk through trials, it’s incredible to watch the faith these missionaries had as they served God. If you love to read, I promise this will encourage you. Even if you don’t… try it!
Help Someone Else
Last, but definitely not least: help someone else. This always seems like a counterproductive suggestion, but it works. In the early years of my divorce, I found that I could step outside of my still-pending legal drama to help someone walking through the first few days alone. It gave purpose to my pain and helped remind me of truth I wasn’t always meditating on as much as I should.
In fact, that’s one of my favorite parts of this blog. Writing posts and emails to people like you is a beautiful reminder to me.
Of course, you don’t have to help in that way. If you can’t bear it, try just helping in a simple way. Often we give the nurses in the day hospital little gifts and treats to thank them for their hard work when Luke has chemo. Although I know they get paid, this is one little way we can thank them for doing a job most of us would never be able to stomach. And it’s the best way to remind Luke that he’s not a victim.
If you can’t think of anyone at all, try random acts of kindness. You’ll love doing something for someone else that is simple and fulfilling. (And if you would like some simple and practical ideas, check out our Random Acts of Kindness bingo and our RACK Christmas printables. Both have tons of ideas for loving on someone else.)
Your turn—> What do you think? Have you tried any of these? I’d love to hear your ideas, too!