As a child growing up, I was not one who could sit still very long. I needed to be moving or some part of my body moving. So to sit beside me in church worship was a challenge for my parents. Even today as a pastor, sitting in pulpit furniture, my legs are in motion a lot. Ask my wife Jennifer, how many times I have kicked her sitting beside her. Sometimes I wonder if this why God called me to preach, so I could at least be up moving during worship.
In our modern society, which is one of ongoing motion, sitting still is not always an easy accomplishment. There is always something to do, somewhere to go, somebody to text or email. If the COVID-19 virus has done anything good it has caused us to slow down and sometimes even sit still. But even now, we are growing impatient with not being able to do.
In Psalm 46:10 the writer states, “Be still and know that I am God.” Now if you read that statement as is, without the verses around it, you then have a nice bumper sticker message, or greeting card verse, or even an online devotion. However, when you read the verse in context, Psalm 46 describes life as spinning out of control. The psalmist describes the situation this way, “though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” It almost reads like a tsunami of destruction and death flooding the lives of God’s people. The writer goes on to speak about the upheaval that wars and violence cause in our world. The overall picture is not a good one; not good at all.
Yet, nestled in right in the middle of this cosmic mess is the message, “Be still and know that I am God.” While the world may be spinning wildly around, the scripture calls for us to be still and know God. We can’t calm the wildness of our world, but we can with God’s help calm the uncertainty, fears, and anxieties of our hearts. We can live in a stormy world when we anchor ourselves in God’s presence. God can give us an inner peace not based on our surrounding circumstances but by God surrounding us with God’s love.
As Jesus prepared his disciples for his death and future departure, he said to them, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The peace that God gives can withstand the storms of our lives, the uncertainties of our days, and the fears that encamp around us. With God, we can settle down in an unsettling world.
There is a lot of advice good out there in regards to COVID-19 as we face these uncertain days. But the best advice is found right here in Psalm 46: “Be still and know that I am God.” The best way to face the daily unsettling news is to settle down in God’s presence and know that God is still in control.