Be Still and Know That I Am God

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

God calls his people to be an active people.  We are commanded to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).  James goes on to write, “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).  But what about those times when the right thing to do is to do nothing?  You’ve heard someone say to the lazy, “Don’t just stand there!  Do something!”  But have you ever heard someone say to the hyperactive worrier, “Don’t just do something…stand there”?  Whoever turned that phrase made a great point.  We have a hard time leaving things in God’s hands.  We want to be able to do something about everything.  And anything we can do in obedience to God’s commands we must do.  Often when we can’t do anything to achieve the result we’re looking for we busy ourselves with other things.  That’s certainly preferable to sitting around or lying around worrying.  But it’s still not quite the place to which God wants to bring us.

After Pharaoh finally let Israel go from Egypt he soon had a change of heart.  He gathered his army together and took off after them.  Before long the people heard thundering hooves and saw clouds of dust.  As the Egyptians approached on one side the Israelites closed in on the Red Sea on the other side.  Neither option looked like a good one.  So what do you do when you don’t know what to do?  You find someone to blame, of course!  They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?  What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?  Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’?  For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:11-12).  They went from “Get us out of here!” to “Why didn’t you just leave us alone?”  But Moses’ answer was not for them to start swimming, build a bridge or even turn and fight.  Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today.  For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.  The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:13-14).  Don’t just do something – stand there.  Don’t complain – be quiet.  Don’t cover your eyes in fear – see the salvation of the Lord.

There may come a time in your life when you are faced with a crisis.  It may be that there are a number of things you can do to affect the outcome.  Or it may be that there is nothing you can do to affect the outcome, nothing but leave the thing in the hands of God.  And when that happens, can you?  Can you just do all that you can do and then just be still?  In Psalm 46 the psalmist saw trouble in natural calamity – “the earth gives way…the mountains move into the heart of the sea” – and political upheaval – “the nations rage, the kingdoms totter.”  Like seemed shaky, chaotic, and uncertain.  But overriding all these frightful sights and scenarios he affirmed, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (v. 1).

Do yourself a favor and store the 46th Psalm deep in your heart.  Pray over it.  Meditate on it.  Believe it.  And the next time you’re faced with a challenging situation or even a soul-shaking crisis and you’ve done all you know to do and maybe more than you should, hear then the words of God, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).

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