But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works. (Psalm 73:28)

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:11-12)



The earthquake had stilled, and the shattering rocks were not bouncing so violently, but my heart had not yet heard the gentle whisper of my Lord. The fiery questions were still blinding my eyes.

Every night.

How am I supposed to live out my days here, Lord?

Where is the unity with my retired husband, who is facing his own challenges?

Why can’t I bring him comfort?

I was used to having my quiet time alone with God, but now it seemed my only place for that was in the middle of the night, sobbing quietly so as not to wake our multi-generational household. Those night-time hours, where I had met with God early in my chronic illness years, proved to bring God’s intimate touch again.

“…after the fire came a gentle whisper….”

Trust me, my daughter. My plans for you and your family are not finished yet. I will guide you in the way you should go.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8)

Yet my heart hurt over the endless waiting we endured. The reason for my husband’s early retirement weighed heavily on us. His heart failure symptoms and diagnosis were a mystery to me.



Shouldn’t his cardiologist be addressing those concerns? Many of my night-time hours were spent crying out to God for answers, while too many of my day-time hours were filled with thoughts of how to solve the issues.

I knew I could not fix these problems for my husband, but I longed to see him find a more forthcoming doctor. I even took the day-long journey with him for one of his specialist appointments.

It made no difference. The doctor provided no new help, and I cried out silently for change. I knew what was necessary.

Yes, my Lord, I surrender my wishes. Even if I was not ill, I could not be responsible for my husband’s care. Only YOU, our chief caregiver, can carry such a load.

My night-time prayers began to shift.

Into my cries of worry and desperation came such drops of compassion. God’s gentle whispers fell into my opened ears and gifted me with the comfort of His nearness.

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works. (Psalm 73:28)

One day months later, God opened the way ahead without my having to fix anything. The heart failure doctor was no longer in our new insurance network. A different cardiologist was required and engaged, and he ordered other tests that brought additional support for my husband’s condition.



What could I say in this topsy-turvy place? While the doctors in the new insurance network fell smoothly into place for my husband, there were other paths for me. I was sent to doctors who stirred up old shame from the early years of my diagnosis. My weaknesses became all too evident once again.

Where is God when questions feel unanswered?

Why do some seasons of waiting seem endless while others are suddenly transformed?

Is God still tender when His care feels far away?

Our weaknesses and illnesses were not removed, but neither was the presence of our God. My husband and I shared the load as we lifted our prayers and unmet longings to God.

During our questioning, a friend shared this Scripture:

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. (Colossians 1:24)

She had no way of knowing that that same Scripture had baffled me thirty years earlier. What did those words from the apostle Paul mean? I searched commentaries, and I cried out to God for understanding. More waiting was required before any clarity would come.

Now, years later, His Word for us began to make sense. He was with us in the suffering, filling up that which was lacking. Only HE could show us such tender reassurance and care; only He would accomplish His good purposes in our lives.



As we walked forward slowly in this different season, we also found ourselves in a new medical lab. The technician there grumbled in bitterness about her workload. We prayed silently when she needed to help a toddler in another room. The tech returned to the room with a countenance entirely changed! She asked how long we had been married, and then she beamed to tell of her recent engagement. As we left, my husband and I told her, “God bless your wedding!”

We had witnessed the whisper of God being shared from within our place of suffering. He had been helping us live out the Scripture I longed to understand all those years ago. It was God’s fruit of tender care.

He will take care of you, too, in whatever season you find yourself. He is God above the earthquake, over the storm, after the fire, and in the quietest of whispers.

Will you join me in prayer?

Dear Lord, thank You for being such a tender caregiver. We admit that too often we try to fix things our way. Forgive us for looking away from Your great power so evident in our lives. You hold our days, moments, and even years in Your capable hands. So, help us to surrender our agendas and to wait upon You. Thank You for coming near us in our weaknesses, lifting the shame, and gently whispering to our souls. We give You all our worship as we praise Your name together. In the name of Jesus, we pray, amen.


  • What storms or questions are raging in your life?
  • How is God whispering to you above the storms?
  • Is God asking you to share His comfort with others?
Yellow Bubbles
Bettie Gilbert

Bettie Gilbert

Chronic Joy Contributing Writer

You can find Bettie blogging from her home in the far north suburbs of Chicago at bettiegsraseasons.com. She is walking forward with Jesus in the middle of her pain and weakness from multiple chronic illnesses. The beauty of nature and her family (including nine young grandchildren) are Bettie's joys. She and her husband have been married for over 40 years and take great delight in their weekend coffee breaks together.

Compassion Begins When We Suffer Together

Pain, cultivated by the Spirit’s compassion, invites us to care deeply for one another, grow together, suffering with one another so that none of us is isolated or alone. Pain opens the door to the Spirit’s compassion in us.

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