Be Still

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10)

Psalm 46:10 is a very well-known verse and widely used in sermons and to calm anxious hearts. As I thought about this verse yesterday, I found it a very profound verse that ministered to me greatly.

Be still. There was a time when past generations knew exactly what those two words meant. They knew how to be still and enjoy sitting in silence, reading, or talking together with family and friends. In other words, they knew how to relax. They didn’t need to fill up every amount of their days and nights with endless activities, movies, shows and internet. They had their jobs, chores at home, school, and some outside activities, but they also had their down time. Down time consisted of reading books or newspapers, playing outside, going fishing or camping, listening to the radio, pray and read the Bible, gather with family and friends, or simply sit silently on a porch and enjoying the day. Sundays was a day of going to church to worship the Lord, relaxing with family and enjoying a great meal. Most businesses were closed except maybe gas stations and restaurants. A day of rest, was a day of rest. It was needed to not only rest the body, but to rest the mind as well before the new work and school week started. Even God rested on the seventh day. Genesis 2:3 states the following:

“And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”

When we rest, we are able to relax and enjoy our time. We give our bodies and minds a chance to recoup from the stressors of the past week and gain the much needed strength that’s needed to continue on. When I was a kid, our family used to go camping each summer. My parents had a hammock made of that itchy rope that you tie between two trees. We enjoyed laying on it and relaxing. It was nothing to just lay there for an hour or so and read, take a nap or just enjoy the moment of relaxation. A few years ago, my husband and I went camping and brought our hammock that is on metal poles so no trees were needed and it was much more comfortable. One day I laid on it and after 5 minutes or so I found it hard to stay there. My mind soon filled with things I’d like to do or needed to do. I wasn’t used to relaxing and simply doing nothing unless I was going to take a nap. There was no internet, which isn’t a problem, but it does occupy the mind. Let me say that again…it does occupy the mind.

That is the problem in our generation and society. Our minds are on overload. We have come to occupy our minds so much with technology and outside activities that we have forgotten how to simply be still. This isn’t just physically but mentally also. We are always either on the go, sitting in front of a screen or worrying about everything that we stress ourselves out and being still becomes more of a problem. Without anything to do, our minds will think about the things we don’t want to think about or that whatever worries us. So it’s easier to be constantly doing something than to be still. It took me a bit, but the longer I allowed myself to stay on the hammock, the easier it became to enjoy my time on it. I didn’t allow myself to jump up in five minutes and go do something. I made myself relax. It was very enjoyable.

The next part after “be still” is “and know that I am God”. How can we know that God is God if we don’t allow ourselves time to be still and think about Him? It takes us stopping long enough to enjoy His creation to be able to know just who God is. It takes the simple moments of spending time with family to realize what God has given to us. If we are never still long enough to pray and read His Word, how will we ever truly know who He is?

Be still in Hebrew is “raphah” which means to cast down; to let fall; then to be relaxed. It also means not putting forth exertion. In other words, surrendering the situation to God and have no anxiety about it. It meant the Israelites were to wait upon God for their rescue and that’s what Psalm 46 is about. It expresses thanks for the deliverance of Jerusalem, the city of God. This Psalm shows three things: 1. God as a place of security 2. God’s protection and comfort. 3. How we are called to consider God’s works and submit to His authority.

In the midst of disaster and trouble, God is our refuge and strength and we find our security in Him. Though there may be earthquakes and mountains may crumble into the sea, though the oceans may roar, God will be our refuge and strength. Yes, God does allow these things to happen for His reasons, but for those who are His children, those who have accepted His Son, Jesus, as their Savior, they don’t have to worry nor fear because He is our refuge.

Be still and know that I am God. When we can’t find God in the midst of the chaos and turmoil, we must be still in order to hear Him. When we occupy our minds with so much outside interference and so much overload, we can’t hear God and therefore we can’t find His peace. There are two commands here…not to panic and to recognize His sovereignty which were directed both to His nation to bring comfort and to other nations (pagan) as a warning for their rebellious ways. There are times in the midst of the crisis that we must be still and allow God to work. We may not always understand why something is happening, as devastating as it is, but what we can take comfort in is knowing that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28). In the end, God will be exalted in the nations and in the earth.

We see in Mark 4:39 that Jesus also quieted the storm when He and the disciples were in the boat on the sea:

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

In other versions of the Bible, the words “quiet” or “silence” are used which also means peace. Jesus and the disciples were in a boat on the sea when a storm arose. It was so bad the disciples became fearful and woke Jesus up, who was sleeping in the boat. When Jesus awoke, he silenced the storm. We can safely assume He also silenced the worry in the hearts of His disciples. Jesus was able to sleep peacefully during the storm because He knew that God would protect Him and the disciples.

When we are in the midst of a crisis, it’s hard not to worry and wonder what the outcome will be. But we must listen to what God is telling us…Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! We must trust that Jesus will say to our storm and our anxious hearts “Peace, be still!”.  The only way we can truly hear God is if we allow ourselves to be still with no distractions. We must be determined to make the time to tune everything and everyone out and sit with the Lord. Distractions and worry may come from every direction when doing so, but we have the authority to silence those distractions as Jesus silenced the storm by saying “Peace, be still!” Luke 10:19 confirms this:

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

It’s important to take time each day to sit with God so He can not only bring peace to your worried heart, but to give you direction. It is then you will see Him exalt Himself in the storm, and everyone will know He is true God.