Psalm Forty-Six

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

He says, “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 refuge.

I always read this scripture whenever I feel like the world is closing in. It always reminds me that God is ‘with me’ and moving even in the darkest and most difficult times. Because, let’s be honest, it’s in our darkest moments that we tend to doubt whether God is even present, let alone working. And it’s definitely in these moments that I try to prove myself to people. It’s in these times that I try to make things happen for myself, because I’m so convinced that God isn’t listening or even making an effort to see me through – to the future He promised, might I add. I sometimes can’t help but giggle at how we want to control the journey to the desired outcome that wasn’t our own idea in the first place. And that’s probably why we get so frustrated. Because we literally have this idea that we know better than God about His own plans. When the reality of it is that God’s ways are always higher than our ways. Even when they look a lot less desirable to what we would like.

The Hebrew origin of the words, ‘be still’ (Râphâh), means to slacken; to reduce in speed or intensity, and to weaken, or abate. The English dictionary defines ‘being’ as existing. Both these definitions made me consider the fact that maybe being still does not only mean to sit in silence or deep thought. Maybe it just means being real with where you are at. It means that being still doesn’t need the striving, world saving, problem solving you. It simply needs you. The weak you. The you that needs this ever-present help. Because it is this you that can acknowledge the He is God and not you. And it is in and through this you, that God can truly do a work without restraint. He truly can’t do much with the you you pretend to be.

I love how this scripture has 23 lines telling us all about who God is, what He can and will do and only two of the 25 lines tell us what we should do. To behold the works of the Lord and be still and know. Both these two lines speak nothing of the power and greatness we think we have on our own. This, I believe, almost solidifies that there is honestly not much we can do in comparison to God. The best we can do is behold him in all of His glory, give Him all the honour, praise and worship, and be still and know.

I know that being still is easier said than done, especially in the midst of disappointment. But it’s probably in these times that it is most necessary. Not only because it allows Him to perform miracles. But it allows Him to draw in close.

Pastor Steven Furtick preaches an incredible message on the story of Lazarus. And in it he highlights the fact that, in John 11:33, Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” when he saw Mary and the Jews who were with her weeping over the death of Lazarus. When Jesus saw her pain, He participated in it. And Pastor Steven proposes that the Lazarus factor is not only that God gives us miracles in desperation. The Lazarus factor says that He is with us in the pain of disappointment as well.

It’s been so difficult trying to understand why God would allow this year to happen. Why He would let me go through all of that preparation to get to College, just to find myself back home again, a mere 5 months later. And maybe I’ll really only know the relevance of it years from now, but it doesn’t take away the disappointment and sometimes embarrassment of what I’m currently facing. It doesn’t take away the reality of often getting caught up in thoughts of “If I had only finished my degree like all my other friends, or like my family had encouraged, maybe I wouldn’t be in this place right now”. That maybe all those resources, prayers, efforts that people put in throughout the years of my life, were wasted. All of that hard work, and nothing to show for it. It doesn’t take away the thought that if my dad was still alive, maybe things would have been different or the reality of often doubting whether I heard God correctly and whether anything will even come of this. Even though Lazarus did eventually wake up, the 4 days of grieving, prior to that, were very real.

Often times, God could just deliver us from our tribulations. Instead He chooses to come close and sit with us in it. Because tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

The word ”know” in Hebrew (Yâdă) is essentially described in the following 2 ways:
1. To know by observing and reflecting
2. To know by experience
It further parallel’s “knowing” God with fearing Him, serving Him and trusting Him. It means that whether I know from experience, from observing it in other people’s lives or by someone else testifying, I can actually be sure that God’s plan will prevail. That He is faithful and true to His word. And that He will be glorified and exalted. It means that even though I never imagined this would happen. Even though I don’t understand why God would even allow this to happen. Even though it often hurts beyond what I could ever put in words, He will still fulfill His promises.

So sit with Him in the sleep that, to us, looks like death. Weep. Be angry. Be frustrated. Grieve. Be hopeful. Be desperate for your miracle. Exist.

Be still and know.

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