Be Still


“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, 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…. He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;…’” (Psalm 46:1-3, 10a)

It would be so easy for us to assume that anytime we face what seems to be overwhelming circumstances, that God has deserted us. After all, if He is omnipotent—and He is—He ought to be able to just deliver us out of whatever it is we don’t think we can handle, right?

But that’s not the way it works. For one thing, sometimes God brings difficulties into our lives to shape and mold us into the kind of people He wants us to become (see, e.g., Romans 5:3-4). 

For another thing, sometimes God brings difficult circumstances into our lives so we get a glimpse of Who He is. He says when we are still before Him, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10b). 

One thing for sure, He doesn’t automatically take us out of a “bad” situation. A perfect example is Daniel’s friends in the fiery furnace (see Daniel 3:8-25). The three men were tossed into the fire because they refused to disobey God by worshipping an alternate god. They told Nebuchadnezzar, 

“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

And, if you remember the story (I can wait while you read it now if you are not familiar with it…), Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace to be super-heated—hot enough the soldiers who threw the three men in were killed by the heat.

But God! Verses 24-25 read: 

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, Your Majesty.’ He said, ‘Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’”

In this instance God did not keep them from the furnace, rather He entered it with them! As God tells us in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not be afraid. I am with you. Do not be terrified. I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. I will hold you safe in my hands. I always do what is right.” Again, Jesus told the disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). And that includes any time spent in fiery furnaces!

But then, sometimes God does something else extraordinary. We read this story in Mark 4. Jesus left the crowds that had followed Him, and entered a boat with His disciples. He went into the back of the boat and fell asleep. Then a storm came. A huge storm. A storm bad enough that experienced fishermen began to panic. In their fear they woke Jesus and said:

“‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘“Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” (Mark 4:38-41)

Here’s what Timothy Keller says about this incident:

“[Jesus] said: Quiet! Be still! That’s it. To a hurricane, Jesus simply says, Quiet! Be still!—just as you would talk to an unruly child. The more astonishing thing is that the storm obeyed like a compliant child. ‘Then the wind died down—and it was completely calm.’”[1]

Remember those two stories the next time you face an extreme situation. Sometimes, many times, God will walk with you through the storm. Other times, the God who controls the wind and the waves, the God who preserved three men from the fire, the God who shut the mouths of the lions (Daniel 6), will simply speak and calm the storm.

Keep in mind that even when the storms of life are raging about you, you can “Be still,” knowing that the God who is our “refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” is with you, “even to the end of the age.”

Go Deeper

  1. Timothy Keller, Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God (Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition), p. 54.

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