“Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.“
(Psalm 46:8-11, ESV)
Be still. It’s the Hebrew word for a silent, motionless state. Stop. Say nothing. Do nothing. Be fully at rest – no words, no work, no worry. There are few words my soul needs to hear more.
We live lives of constant motion, frenetic effort and unrelenting pressure. There’s always something to check, to do, to schedule. We run harder and harder and feel like we’re only getting more and more behind. Emails, dishes and meetings all pile up.
The psalmist is showing us another way. Cease striving. Trust God. Realize it all doesn’t rest on your shoulders. Accept the gentle rhythms of grace. Find stillness for your soul.
Sounds great. If only it were possible, right?
Well, the psalmist is giving us a roadmap to genuine soul rest. The roadmap is found in the character of God.
Verses 8-9 recount the works of God. The description seems jarring but it’s a reminder of God’s faithful deliverance of Israel. Think about your past. Can you name one time when God was unfaithful to you? Maybe He didn’t meet your expectations and maybe He didn’t follow your script and maybe He let you down. But unfaithful? I don’t think so.
God’s faithfulness in the past gives us confidence in His promises for the future. That’s the heart of verse 10. We can be still because God is going to accomplish all of His purposes. It’s a done deal. We simply need to play our part.
When the Lord of hosts is with you, your soul can rest. That’s the hope of verse 11. He’s in your corner today. He’s walking into the exhaustion, uncertainty and opportunities of the day with you. You aren’t alone. You may be in over your head but He isn’t in over His.
Stillness and hard work aren’t mutually exclusive. Stillness often gives rise to great effort, productivity and resolve. But it’s not frantic, scattered, flailing. Stillness is a fountain of energy. Striving is an energy drain.
Which are you operating from today? Stillness or Striving?