So what if you have been doing all this—praying, pouring out your soul, praising through pain—but the silence on God’s end is still killing you? When we are navigating a waiting season and the journey takes unexpected detours, Satan tries to run his cruel soundtrack in our minds—God doesn’t like you; God is against you; God is not listening—but God has a soundtrack, too. Maybe it’s time to put together a new spiritual playlist. Let’s choose to fill our minds with God’s playlist: scriptures and songs that fuel our faith and protect our relationship. God is not silent, as He sometimes seems; He has already given us His Word to tell us how He feels and how He works. It’s up to us to use the Bible [and worship!] to fill in God’s half of the conversation.
Music and worship are powerful, God-given blessings that profoundly affect our spirituality, our emotional wellbeing, and even our theology. They can keep us connected to God even when He feels far away. Why not put together a worship playlist that ministers to you in your wait?
Here are eight songs on my waiting playlist. These songs have cracked open places in my heart I didn’t even know existed, given words to prayers I didn’t know how to pray. Some give me hope; some help me surrender; others help me praise God even through pain. I share them here with deepest gratitude to the writers and artists who gave them to us:
I have a forever place in my heart for other women who have shared in the suffering of infertility and pregnancy or infant loss. Today I am honored to share a post from my friend Sarah Philpott, author of Loved Baby: 31 Devotions Helping You Grieve and Cherish Your Child After Pregnancy Loss. When Sarah suffered two miscarriages, she wrote and prayed her way through the pain, and as God brought healing to her heart, she turned her loss into a ministry to help other women who have loved and lost. How I wish I’d had Sarah’s book to comfort and guide me when I lost my little one six years ago. I couldn’t agree more with her encouragement to take the time to write through pain—in the days after I lost my little one, I wrote a poem, “Still,” that somehow brings me comfort even now. I know Sarah’s post will be an encouragement and comfort to all who have suffered miscarriage and infant loss—and indeed to anyone who is grieving any loss. Life is filled with griefs of all kinds, and writing and praying through our pain is a powerful way to heal. Sarah has generously offered to give a signed copy of her book to one blessed reader—please join us on Instagram this week to enter the giveaway!
Mourning is an expression of sorrow. And sometimes our sorrows are so sacred that we don’t necessarily want to speak our inner thoughts.
And our sorrows stay put. Simmering in our minds.
Simmering can be good. A steaming pot of soup perched atop the stove. Chopped carrots circling the diced potatoes. Basil releasing its aromatic magic.
But simmering can also be bad. Especially if words of negativity or sadness bubble within our souls. Brewing. Fermenting.
Do you ever let thoughts brew in your mind for too long? Thoughts of shame or anger. Thoughts of fear and disappointment. Thoughts of sadness and longing.
Dear Soul, can I encourage you to do something? To help release your pain.
Write through the wreckage. Admit your pain. Mourning is a must.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).
Why write about grief?
Writing forces us to acknowledge truth. Even if that truth is painful. After my two miscarriages I started writing my story. Putting into words “My baby died in my womb” was no easy task, yet it helped release me from the bondage of minimizing my pain. Death is worthy of grief. And grief must be mourned.
Writing also provides us a place to process our internal dialogue. To make sense of the madness. To grieve. Many people, myself included, report that writing helps us to finally know how we feel.
If you keep a closed pot simmering on the stove it eventually boils over. The same is true for our thoughts. If we repress our internal dialogue long enough we eventually erupt.
Can I tell you something? Writing my stories of pregnancy loss was emotionally taxing. It forced me to revisit painful memories that I would have rather numbed. But writing my story—and owning my emotions—helped me move forward. I’m not saying that I got over my pain, but I am saying that it helped me move to a place where eventually sadness and joy coexist.
It gave me comfort to relocate my thoughts from my head to the paper.
It’s not just my miscarriages that I’ve written about, but tragic deaths of loved ones as well. The paper was a safe place I could be vulnerable. To speak the unspeakable.
This mere act of expressive writing is healthy for our souls. The American Psychological Association has published research chronicling the healing power of writing. In fact, expressive writing has been correlated with strengthening the immune system and mind.
So I am going to challenge you. To help you mourn. To help strengthen your mind.
Unpack your mind and put the words down on paper. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It’s not a pretty story, is it?
So be raw. Be honest.
But your story also includes glimmers of humanity. Remember the goodness that other people have displayed. The sorrow they showed. The hugs they gave. The fact that you cradled a loved baby within your womb.
Write about the hope you have for a new day. The day when you will greet your baby in heaven.
Keep your words private or make them as public as you desire. Share them with a confidant or tuck the papers into a secret place.
Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. This is just your truth.
I warn you…you will write about things that are tough to admit. Anger. Jealousy. Bitterness. Fear. But you must acknowledge those emotions so that they don’t spew forth in an avalanche of rage or depression.
It might take you a few hours, a week, or even a year to finish writing your story. You might not ever even finish. Your paper will be tear-soaked. Expect this challenge to be painful, but also expect it to help ease your mind.
In this sisterhood, you can share with women who’ve walked and are walking the very same journey you have been forced to trod. It’s helpful to connect with women in a safe community and to read the stories of others.
Use these prompts to get your mind focused. You don’t have to write it all at one time. Just write a bit if that is all you can accomplish. Perhaps you are reading this and have faced a type of grief other than pregnancy loss. Write through that trauma. You won’t find the answer of why, but you will find out more about yourself and how you can find strength.
The day I found out I was pregnant I was so (happy, scared, surprised, angry) ______________.
I told _____________________.
The day my womb baby perished I felt so _________________. I was ___________________.
Physically I felt ____________________.
Emotionally I felt ___________________.
I never expected pregnancy loss to be so __________________________.
My greatest internal struggle has been_______________________.
____________________(person, activity, a book, a scripture) has helped me throughout this time of grief.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read:
Sarah Lewis Philpott, Ph.D, author of Loved Baby: 31 Devotions Helping You Grieve and Cherish Your Child After Pregnancy Loss, lives in the south on a sprawling cattle farm where she raises her three mischievous children and is farm wife to her high-school sweetheart. She is an award-winning writer and TODAY SHOW parenting team blogger. You can find her books on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere. Sarah is founder of the Loved Baby support group and #HonorAllMoms Mother’s Day movement. These days Sarah happily chooses to be a stay-at-home mom and spends her days cleaning up peanut butter and jelly off the counter, dreaming of traveling the world, and chasing her children around the farm. She doesn’t believe in sharing desserts. Life is too short to share chocolate! Sarah is a lover of coffee (black), rocking chairs, the outdoors, and Hemingway.
*Read to the end for a chance to win a free audiobook!*
Confession: I struggle with the word surrender. At least I struggle with the way some people use it. The way many Christians talk, it seems like surrender means we are supposed to achieve a Zen-like place where we no longer want…and no longer feel. We should be completely, perfectly happy exactly as we are. No wants. No needs. No regrets. No desires for the future.
But honestly? I don’t see that definition—or that example—in the Bible. When I read the Psalms, I read heartfelt pleas from unhappy people begging God to change their circumstances. Wondering where He is in the wait. Thanking Him for what He has already given, yes; maintaining deep respect for His sovereignty, always (or maybe I should say usually!)—but not giving up on what they’re praying for. Not letting it go until God gives the final “No.”
I don’t see David, living on the run from the murderous King Saul, praying, “Never mind, God. I know You told Samuel to anoint me as Israel’s next king, but don’t worry about it…I’m good. I’ll just live in caves as an outlaw forever. I surrender to being trapped in this situation.”
I see David saying,
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13:1–2)
We don’t see the man whose son was tormented by demons saying to Jesus, “Lord, I’m content for my son to continue throwing himself into fire and water. I’m surrendered to his illness.” No, we see him kneeling desperate before Jesus and pleading, “Lord, have mercy on my son” (Matthew 17:14–20).
Jesus urges his followers to be persistent in prayer when He says, “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 HCSB). Jesus even tells the story of the feisty widow who basically annoys her local judge until he gives in and gives her what she needs! Jesus concludes the story by saying,
“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.” (Luke 18:7–8)
What can we take from this?
It’s okay to ask.
It’s okay—and hang with me, because we’re going to talk more about this—to be unhappy.
Our goal is not to shut off our feelings and hopes so we can robotically surrender to whatever happens…our goal is surrenderedfaith. And what is surrendered faith? Surrendered faith is about learning to hold onto conflicting emotions at the same time: hope in one hand, submission in the other. Hope that God can change our situation…but submission if He doesn’t change it now (or ever).
What do I mean when I say “submission”? I mean that even though we’re sad, we still thank God for our other blessings, and we do not resent Him for saying, “No for now”—or even “No forever.” We submit to God’s almighty, mysterious timing and ways, acknowledging that He knows things we do not (Isaiah 55:8–11)—even as we continue to plead our case. We fight to be content in the sense that we are okay—we choose to get up every day and live a Christ-focused, selfless life—even as we still pray for and long for The Thing we desire. We don’t shut off our feelings and hopes and mindlessly surrender to whatever happens…we seek surrendered faith.
Hope in one hand, submission in the other: it’s a picture we see many times in the Bible. And what does that picture look like? What does it feel like?
It looks like people tearing their robes and mourning and grieving for things that are lost…but then getting back up again. Learning to live a different life than the one they had planned. Choosing to still live and love and serve God in spite of heartache and loss. (See 2 Samuel 12:12–25. It’s a complicated story, but in it we see both persistence in prayer and surrender to God’s sovereignty…and, eventually, the grace of a second chance.)
It looks like Paul clinging to contentment and gratitude even through persecution, financial hardship, and loneliness: “I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12–13 HCSB).
It looks like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego standing boldly before King Nebuchadnezzar, knowing they could be thrown into a furnace if they refused to bow down to an idol, but saying, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17–18, emphasis mine).
It looks like Jesus in the Garden, asking God to take away the sacrifice and pain to come…but wrestling in prayer until He could say, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).
It means still honoring God’s wisdom and ways (and timeline) even when they don’t match up to ours. Still obeying Him even when we don’t like the way our life is going.
It means being grateful for what we do have now, even as we pray for what we don’t have yet.
It doesn’t mean pretending to have a full heart when our heart has a hole.
It doesn’t mean flogging ourselves with unnecessary guilt by saying, “I must be sinful—and God must be angry with me—because I still feel sad about a loss or an unfulfilled prayer request.”
More specifically, it doesn’t mean saying, “I shouldn’t still want to be married after all these years being single. I should banish that desire completely and be completely content with God.” (Should we all, single and married alike, be content with God as our greatest love? Of course. But I suggest we can feel both things at the same time: we can be content with God as our Husband even as we still desire a godly husband on earth!)
It doesn’t mean saying, “I shouldn’t still want my wandering child to turn back to God. I should let them go.”
Maybe surrendered faith means we can say, “I may never stop wanting…to get married…to be a mother…to see my child come back to the Lord… but even if God never grants those desires, I will still love Him, serve Him, and trust Him, and I will still live a life filled with love and purpose.”
Maybe faith is taking our prayers from,
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13:1–2)
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:5–6)
When David starts praising God, his problems haven’t gone away yet. (Notice these verses come from the same psalm!) David is likely still hiding in caves, fleeing his enemies, waiting for God’s promise to come true, but his faith is intact. Even as he waits and questions and prays, he finds gratitude and praise. He knows he is safe in God’s hands. He thanks God from the cave. He trusts God in the wait.
Now that’s a definition of surrender we can all fight to embrace. That’s surrendered faith.
I am deeply honored to share my friend Tiffany’s story here on Lizzy Life. It’s a scary and vulnerable thing to share your life, your pain, and your faith journey with others…I’m so thankful that Tiffany was willing to share hers with all of us. Her words brought tears to my eyes. Whether you struggle with chronic pain, physical challenges, or any kind of suffering that is beyond your control, I know your faith will be strengthened by these words.
Hey there, Lizzy Life followers! My name is Tiffany Chacon and I’m honored to share about my journey with pain and waiting for healing.
At the beginning of 2013, I started to have debilitating pain in my joints. At the time, I was a riding instructor at a local horse farm. I would get home from teaching lessons at the end of the day and literally crawl up the stairs to our apartment because I was in so much pain. I started to see an orthopedic doctor and then a sports medicine doctor, and when neither helped, I went to a rheumatologist, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a physical therapist… the list goes on. I got a knee brace, shoe insoles, a plethora of medications and side effects, and a myriad of injections in my joints. Instead of getting better, the pain only got worse.
With every new doctor, I would hope that this would be THE ONE. This would be the doctor who would know what was wrong with me. This would be the therapy to finally “fix” me. This medication would make it all go away. But it didn’t. I found the truth in this verse: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).
Three years into my journey with pain, I was consistently walking with a cane and taking several medications daily just to function. The pain kept me up at night—I spent a lot of nights crying on the bathroom floor, praying to God, feeling so alone and defeated. I was unable to work, barely able to go to church. There were days when I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without help from my husband.
The pain brought up so many questions in my life. First, the practical: What is happening to me? How can we fix this? How long will this last? Then, the relational and spiritual: My husband didn’t sign up for this. What will my friends think of me when I can’t keep up with them? Why would God allow me to be in pain—I can’t DO anything for Him like this.
I was 25 years old at the time. All of my friends were advancing in their careers, going on fun vacations, moving on with their lives. All things that I was not able to do. I kept thinking, I have one life…and this is it?
My first instinct was to run from God, curl up in a little ball and watch America’s Next Top Model until the pain went away. When that didn’t work, I turned to the Scriptures and to prayer. I wrote this verse on my mirror and would pray over it on an almost daily basis:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)
As I focused on God’s Word and his eternal promises—the hope of real healing, of true comfort in heaven, of eternal glory—I began to see how God was working through my pain.
When my husband, Tyler, and I were first married, I would always ask him, “Do you love me?” Most of the time I would say it playfully, but the question came from an intense longing to feel secure in his love for me. Whenever he responded to my inquiry, I would pay attention to his tone of voice, his body language, his eyes, to gauge just how much he actually loved me.
Now, nine years later, I can’t think of the last time I asked Tyler that question, and I’ll tell you why: as I suffered these past few years, he suffered, too.
In Tyler’s wedding vows, he said, “If you don’t sleep, I won’t sleep.” And as we close in on our ten-year anniversary, he has proven true to his word. When I couldn’t sleep because of the pain, Tyler would stay awake with me and pray over me. He didn’t need to tell me he loved me anymore, because he showed he loved me.
And the same has been true of my relationship with God: throughout my life, it seems that my prayers to Him have always been similar to my questions to Tyler. Do you love me? Are you sure? And, as I became more “useless” to God during my flare-ups, the question became: Do you love me while I’m like this? And God’s resounding answer to me has been yes.
One moment stands out in particular. In December 2015, I had to have surgery, and I was terrified. For some reason the thing I was most scared of was going into surgery alone—I was petrified thinking about being alone in the brief time when they take you away from your friends and family and wheel you from the hospital room to the operating room. In the hours leading up to the surgery, I prayed a specific prayer: God, hold my hand. Be with me as I go into surgery. And when the moment came for me to say goodbye to my family and go to the operating room, as the nurses were wheeling me away, the surgeon ran up to my bed and took my hand. She held my hand all the way to the operating room, and kept holding it until I was asleep. Of course, she didn’t know about my prayer—she didn’t even know I was afraid. But God did — and I really believe that through her, God Himself was holding my hand all the way to the operating room and into surgery. In that moment I saw that God was a present help in my trouble (Psalm 46) and He would hold my hand as long as I needed.
Last year, I read Elizabeth’s book, When God Says, “Wait,“ and the questions that struck me the most were: How will I wait? and Who will I become along this journey?
As I read the book and wrestled with the ambiguity of my waiting game, I realized that I couldn’t actually control anything about my situation except for my attitude and actions during this period of indefinite waiting. In that moment, I decided:
I am going to be willing to tell my story, to talk about my pain.
Instead of focusing on what I can’t do, I will be grateful for what I can do.
I won’t give in to the “what ifs,” but will find hope in the “yet” (WGSW, p. 141).
I will use my waiting journey to allow God to shape me, to make me into the person He created me to be (WGSW, p. 28).
Since making these decisions, I have to admit that I have not waited perfectly. I have let my mind go crazy with the what ifs, I have had pity parties, I have retreated back into my turtle shell of pain and pushed out the people who love me. But I have also had victories: I have had days when I’ve been in pain and I’ve been joyful anyway. I have shared my story with others and found that it gave them strength. I have relished the little victories and have praised God along the way.
Almost five years into my journey with pain, I still don’t have answers about what is causing the pain, if and when it will ever go away, or what my life will look like tomorrow. But I do have the answers to some of life’s most important questions:
Even in the pain, I know that God loves me.
Even in the pain, I know that Tyler will be beside me through it.
Even in the pain, I know who I want to be.
Tiffany, your example is an inspiration and your faith is a comfort and guide. Thank you for sharing your story—and your heart.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read:
After months spent burning the midnight—er, light bulbs—at Starbucks, downing more caffeine than one small human should consume, and begging God nonstop for wisdom and inspiration and courage, today When God Says, “Go” is going out into the world!
So what’s this book about?
If you are facing a challenge that has you scared to death…I wrote this book for you.
If you are facing change you never saw coming…I wrote this book for you.
If scary things make you want to run hide under the covers…I wrote this book for you.
If hard things make you want to curl up in a ball in a puddle of tears…I wrote this book for you.
If it’s time to find courage that you have never needed before, and never wanted to need… I wrote this book for you.
When God says, “Go,” we face one of life’s greatest decisions.
When God says, “Go,” we must face our fears. . .our excuses. . .and our selves.
When God says, “Go,” it’s time to answer His call wherever it leads.
In this book, we walk alongside people of the Bible who were called by God to fulfill His purposes. . .people like Moses, Esther, Abigail, Jeremiah, Mary, and others. These Bible heroes responded much like we do—with a jumbled-up inner storm of excitement and fear, insecurity and hope. Their stories and struggles can provide a roadmap for our stories, helping us face our own doubts, regrets, and worries.
When God calls, it’s time to go. Maybe somewhere new, someplace you’ve never been. Maybe it’s time to go forward after being stuck with one foot in the past. Maybe it’s time to go deeper—in Bible study or relationships. Time to go higher—in prayer or dreams. Time to go and give—to use talents and opportunities God has given. Or maybe it’s time to go and grow, right where you are. . .to dig into the Word, dive into your heart, and become the person God is calling you to be.
Before we go: I want to send a supersonic, all-caps-because-I’m-so-grateful-and-my-fingers-are-shouting THANK YOU to all the people who have helped this little book enter the world. (You can read all about their wonderfulness in the book’s acknowledgments, but—sending thanks to my family and friends; my writing partner, Emma; my agent, Jessica Kirkland; the outstanding team at Barbour—Kelly! Shalyn! Liesl! Mary! Lauren! Faith! Morgan!—I owe them all more than I can say.) A very big thank you to friends who endorsed this book: Andy Lee, Emily Ley, Spence Hackney, Caroline Harries, Sarah Philpott, Bekah Pogue, Tracy Steel, Courtney Westlake…I am humbled and honored by the gift of your words.
I also want to send a big shout-out to my launch team members (you know who you are!) for sharing your time, your hearts, and your words in order to help this book find its place.
And thank YOU for being part of my life and writing ministry!
You can purchase When God Says, “Go” at any of these retailers:
Ready or not, God is calling us all to go somewhere new in our walk with Him. So what are we waiting for? Let’s answer His call. Ready? Set? Here we go!
If you want to help give this book a little push out into the world, here are some easy ways you can do so:
Leave a book review on Amazon, B & N, ChristianBook, or Goodreads. (This is a huge help for authors!)
You can recommend that your church use the book as a study series. It is packed with scripture and is suitable for study by a coed audience. (You can download the free small-group discussion guide here.)
Tell your church that When God Says, “Go” makes the perfect congregational gift for high school and college graduates!