Utterances of Life

Utterances of Life

One night, I was a millisecond away from drifting off to sleep, when the Lord spoke three words. They came, bing-bing-bing. I knew if I yielded to sleep, the words would vanish. So I wrenched myself awake and stumbled through the dark to find a notebook and pen. That’s hard to do if you have sleep issues.

Patrisha Gazy's word to me specifically, picturing the hidden treasure that I value.

Patrisha Gazy painted this as a word for me–showing the hidden treasure that I value.

Truth is, I treasure the voice of God—in Scripture, but also when He speaks in fresh ways.

I wrote down the three words. They made no sense at the time.

God regularly speaks in mysteries, bypassing my intellect to reach my spirit. An interruption to my thoughts is often God interjecting His voice in curious ways. It’s like a treasure hunt as I ponder and search out the meanings. God puts a tidbit of revelation on my horizon as an appetizer. If I search for more, it often leads to a full course spread on His banquet table.

Over the past twenty years, I began to realize that God knows the English language. I don’t know why—but that came as a surprise to me. Maybe I thought He was limited to Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

Having a command of the King’s English, God can easily bring a single word or short phrase across the screen of my mind. Sometimes He whispers it in my ears. And the words He speaks are potent with meaning, offering guidance or warning. Some words reveal the enemy’s angle. Others are like keys, unlocking barricaded doors. Instructional words carry the tenor of fatherly advice. Some phrases drip with poetry and love. Others calm my worried heart, bringing supernatural peace. And all His words bolster my faith.

Jamee Rae wrote about fresh words from God, using the Greek word, “rhema,” which means an utterance. “The rhema word in Biblical terms refers to a portion of Scripture that ‘speaks’ to a believer. In most cases, a rhema word received while reading the Bible applies to a current situation or need…(It) is timely and extremely valuable.” Rae gave two Scriptures that pointed to their importance:

Matthew 4:4 says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word [rhema] that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

In John 6:63, Jesus emphasized this point when he said, “The words [rhema] that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

If we’re doing life with God, we need to engage in a two-way conversation.

So God offered me three rhema words. The first one was BEMOAN, which means to lament, to express grief over or look upon something with regret or displeasure.

In my experience, God uses words and meanings in both symbolic and concrete ways. For example, in last week’s post, I talked about using a flounder (a fish) in my dream, to coax a bear out of my bedroom. But flounder has another meaning as well…“to hesitate in confusion.” That spoke volumes to me.

Saw this one summer. Someone else had the corner on the name.

When I heard God say the word BEMOAN—it somehow translated to, “Bee Moaning.” You see, my nickname is “Bee.” My father used to call me “Sue B.” because my maiden name was Susan Beth Donaldson. My father-in-law unknowingly called me the same. My husband, Duncan, just calls me Bee—or Honey Bee when I am sweet, or Worker Bee when I am busy, or Queen Bee when…well, you get the picture.

In fact, I wanted “Bee Hill” as a pen name, because there are at least two other writers in the world named Susan Hill.  To differentiate my name, WaterBrook Press had me include my middle initial. “Susan D. Hill” sounded way too formal—as if I was writing a thesis for crying out loud. My editor chided me, saying if you go by “Bee Hill,” you might end up naming your child “Apple,” and people will think you’re from Hollywood. Right.

Anyway, God knows all about nicknames. He knew Dimitri’s real name was Raoul.

So why would God address “bemoaning” with me? Because He knows me so well. He sees the hidden pockets of sorrow concealed in my being. He knows the damage they can cause.

I had already laid down my disappointment with God, but sometimes I still carry disappointments about life. I press on with a stiff upper lip. Some would call it perseverance. Others might see it as denial.

father and daughter at beach sun set

God says, “Come away with Me and tell me all that’s weighing on your heart…”

But God seems to call it what it is, bringing it to light so I won’t carry it alone or in secret.  In a way, He was saying, “I know your sorrow inside. Please come away and talk with Me about it.”

In the past, He said it like this: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

Bemoaning is about expressing grief or sorrow out loud. It can turn into complaining, but it doesn’t have to. Someone once said that lamentation (bemoaning) before God is one of the highest forms of worship…taking your heartaches to God, laying them before Him, and trusting Him with the outcomes.

On that late night, when I scribbled, “BEMOAN” in my notebook, I didn’t know I was carrying a boatload of sorrow and disappointment. Two days later it all spilled out.

What about you? Do you take the hard stuff to God, or do you just tough it out?

(This post is a continuing story…more to come next week, including the other two words!)



  1. Bemoaning… pouring out sorrow out loud. A lamentation before God… one of the highest forms of worship. That is beautiful! I needed to hear this tonight, because it has given me words to understand what I am going through. Two nights ago, after another round of miscommunication with my dear husband, leaving us both frustrated and withdrawn, worn down from this repeated pattern of disappointment… I went to my bedroom and told God I didn’t know what to do anymore. I shed a few bitter tears and tried to write in my journal, tried to read, tried to distract myself from the deep well of sorrow bubbling up. Then I realized I needed to let God into it. Needed to really talk to him about it, even though I didn’t feel I had the words. So I got down on the floor and asked Him to meet me there. I was shocked at the violence of the grief that came to the surface… I sobbed so hard and long that I thought I was going to pass out. What was all this? Had I really held all this in for so long? It was almost frightening, seeming that it wouldn’t stop. Had I lost complete control? Yet I knew God was with me and it needed to come out. I am typically so self-controlled and “tough out” the hard stuff most of the time… which just equates to burying it way down where I won’t have to feel it. But slowly I am learning to give it to God before stuffing it too deep. It goes against my natural instinct to talk about my hurts and let myself cry. But asking God to help me process the emotions is much healthier than poisoning myself with layers of unreleased pain.
    Still, I didn’t know this much grief and disappoinment was built up inside my spirit regarding my relationship with my husband. After the violent sobbing finally eased, my mind could hear God more clearly. I knew this grief had come from an entire lifetime of striving to please the important male figures in my life. My father, boyfriends, ex-husband, forever-husband… and God, too. I learned many things about myself in the aftermath of that session on the floor, and know I will keep discovering more. God gave me a picture of my body being held in a loving, protective embrace while I was crying, and it brought great comfort. In contrast, the word I got was “Fear” — which seems to be the reason why I give and give without being able to ask for anything for myself. I fear conflict, blame, and disapproval. Especially from my husband.
    I don’t want to be afraid of him anymore, this good man who loves me deeply, even though showing affection and tenderness doesn’t come easily for him. I find myself with new resolve to fight for my marriage to become all God intended it to be. I am not okay with letting our miscommunication and misunderstanding carry on for another 10 years like this!
    I’m so glad you wrote about bemoaning this week.

    • Nikole…I am all teared up reading your comment. Thank you for being so honest and sharing your process. Wow! It will touch others. Keep listening for those words, those utterances of life from God because He will unlock more and more and more and heighten your senses to speak into every area of your life. God does want us to bring Him our sorrows. He is big enough to handle it all. The burying is so deadly. It seems to be the pattern of many good people. You have a great heart and you should also think about becoming a writer!

  2. Debbie Stotts :

    I never thought of applying the verses in Mathew 11:28-29 (Take My yoke …..etc) to heartache and disappointment. Thank you so much for opening my eyes to a deeper understanding of God’s word. I love the way you write!!

    • Thank you Debbie. Yes, I love how the Spirit will make Scripture fresh and new. Try reading the parable of the Sower and the Seed with the idea of the seeds being the fresh voice of God…

  3. Queenie,

    lamentations a high form of WORSHIP. i like, i like. lamenting becomes holy then instead of whining.

    bemoan is just too much! this is you and god at your finest. your relationship is fabulous.

    but…but…i am also the queen bee. did we know this? my granddaughter, bowie, at age 3 introduced me to her preschool as “my mamommy”.
    and the teacher asked, “bowie, do you know your gramma’s real name?”
    bowie stood up and said, “this is SUZEE BRANCH THE QUEEN B”. i about died since this was a private joke at home. no more. ha!

    i also go as the QUEEN OF EVERYTHING. which about sums it up. i will share that title with you. since we are related as bees, you may use it. i’ll inform duncan and the rest of your family at the earliest possible convenience.

    i love you
    suzee BEE

    • Suzee, I am laughing so hard! We did NOT know this! Both of us Queen Bees—Ha! Who knew. Anyway, I dare not share the title of Queen of Everything–that is for you dahling. Much love… S

  4. Paula Kamerman :

    Susan, I really enjoyed your talk at the bozeman encounter conference this weekend. Can you please send me the information about the letter from your younger self to older self, etc. thanks. Marva8hay@yahoo.com

    • Hi Paula… Yes, sending now! Just want to note that the original idea of writing two letters came from Julia Cameron’s book The Right to Write. I read that book so long ago, I had forgotten. The new angle is to write those letters inviting the Holy Spirit to participate and reveal your design to you. Hope you do the writing for yourself!


  5. Hi Susan,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Lately, I have been learning…God can handle whatever is inside of me. I think having grown up Catholic, I always believed there needed to be a reverence for God, and in doing so, that somehow meant you had to “have your act together before coming to God in prayer”. Over the last 10 years, I have had some really challenging issues of losing a best friend to ovarian cancer, making a move I didn’t want to make, and going through incredible financial loss as my husband road the real estate market down for 3 years during the recession. I woke up one Sunday morning and decided before going to church I was going to “have it out with God”. I had written all the things I was so angry about on a sheet of paper and put them in my bible. I got up, grabbed my bible, jumped in the old Buick, and headed out on a country road hoping to find a quiet place to confront God with all that was hard, disappointing, confusing, and circumstances where I just couldn’t understand what He was doing. As soon as the car stopped by the old grain bins overlooking 180 degrees of blue ridged mountains, prairie grasses, and a vast, open space, I knew I had found the perfect place to voice my concerns. I slammed the door, took my bible, stood on the edge of a grassy knoll and began one -by-one going through all the things on my list that I was so angry, hurt, or disappointed about. Before all of that, I prefaced the conversation with “If you want to strike me with lightning for talking to you like this…then go ahead!” As I went through the list, pouring out my heart, my wrath, shaking my head at all I did not understand, I noticed a few things were happening: I was getting more honest, for the first time in my life I felt really “heard”, and by the grace and mercy of God, I was still standing, not dead…no bolt of lightning… Instead, what I found was the Presence of God quieting me with His love. It was incredible! I will never forget it as long as I live. By the time I reached the bottom of my list, I was on my knees praising and worshiping Him for meeting with me there and showing me His incredible, unfailing love. Sometimes I still drive out there in my Red Truck (which has become my sanctuary on wheels). There’s no slamming doors, no more raging, just a coming to meet with my Best Friend and sharing what’s on our hearts. This time, I come just to listen…my words are few. I just need to hear what is on His heart and His mind. And yes, I bring my coffee…it’s what good friends do. I’m so glad God will meet me where I’m at…and Yes, He can handle me and all my “stuff”.