Reframing What it Means to “Be Still”

As a person prone to anxiety, quieting myself before the Lord can be one of my biggest challenges. It somehow feels easier to “do” and get things accomplished than to sit and quiet my mind. Yet there’s something about stilling myself before the Lord that can’t be replicated. It allows me a moment to breathe…in…and…out. Inhaling his Spirit. Exhaling the burdens. It’s in these spaces I give him a chance to be heard over all the noise, all the doing.

Often when I find myself in dry seasons, I realize I’ve had trouble stilling myself. I can easily go through the motions of devotion time with the Lord without actually settling my mind.

Psalm 46: 10 tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” That sounds so sweet and serene, doesn’t it? But it’s not some cushy recommendation, it’s a command. If we widen the lens a bit, we’ll see that this verse sits near the end of a Psalm, a song if you will. It would have been sung by the worshipping community of the day. It begins with:

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.

verses 1-3 (NIV)

If you continue on, you will see this Psalm is about a people who felt afraid, who feared war and destruction.  It’s a Psalm about trusting in God’s power and might, about not giving in to anxiety because he is the Lord Almighty. When it comes to, “Be still, and know that I am God,” it is not a suggestion. In the original Hebrew, it is a command.

Quiet yourself. Calm yourself. Pay attention!

See and know that he is God. Breathe in and out, knowing he is above everything that comes our way, realizing he will have the final victory. It’s allowing for a moment of reverence. “Silence before God shows reverence.”1 Having reverence for the Lord isn’t about being afraid of him, but it is about exalting him to his proper place and framing ourselves within ours. He is the King of Kings, God Almighty, God-of-Angel-Armies2. And it is because of God being in his proper place, Maker of heaven and earth, Sustainer, Protector, Helper, Comforter, that we don’t have to fear. It is because of who God is that we can breathe, that we can be still.

I can always find something to worry about. Some days life disappoints, and I feel my chest tighten at my inability to control. But Psalm 46 invites us to something more. It invites us to something better. Come, bow down at the feet of our Savior God, still your mind from your worries, and know the God-Most-High still sits on his thrown. Somehow exalting him seems to put things back into perspective.

Though the earth give way and the mountains fall, we need not fear.  

1 NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible
2 The Message Translation phrases “The Lord Almighty” as “God-of-Angel-Armies” in verse 7.

Leaning on the God Who Provides

I wrote this well over a year ago and tucked it away. It was raw and it was personal. I needed to write for therapeutic reasons, but I couldn’t share in the midst of the valley. For a time, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever share it, but after seeing a few dear friends walk through their own valleys with their children, it seemed appropriate, even if only for the purpose of sending all my love and encouragement to them. You aren’t alone. ❤ 

Having children has been my hardest trust journey of all. Every step of it, if you don’t want to live in fear, has to be placed into God’s hands. From the waiting and the trying to get pregnant. To the hopeful anticipation that it will be an uncomplicated pregnancy. To the checking for 10 fingers and 10 toes. To the sweet hugs as you send them off to kindergarten. To the moment they’re suddenly suiting up in cap and gown. 

I’m quite certain it doesn’t end there. 

But actually trusting God through a difficult situation is a lot harder than just reading about it or saying the words or believing in the philosophy.

When suddenly a season hits where you aren’t sure as to your child’s health and something feels amiss. People give awkward comments, unwanted advice, and readily slap on labels. You begin to obsessively check your phone, waiting for reports from “the experts”. When it feels like you are staring evil in the eye and have no choice but to prepare for battle. It’s as if the situations around you are spiraling and you’re lost in this sea of questions and doubts and doctors and experts and the like. You start to question everything you’ve ever done as a mother and the ways it could have caused permanent damage- from the non-organic food you consumed while pregnant, to the not-so-perfect parenting moments. And you nonchalantly try to sneak out of church before anyone notices the tears beginning to well up because you can’t hold the fake smile any longer. 

That’s when things get real. 

We all know we’re supposed to trust God with our kids, with our precious little babies. But what does that look like when things hit home? What does that mean when living in this fallen world seems to invade the very fabric of our lives? 

I wish I could say I understood the space I find myself in right now. I wish I could say it all makes sense and I can see how it fits into God’s larger plan. But right now it just feels heavy. It feels dark. And there are moments when it feels as though Satan himself is warring against my family and my child. 

The Bible is very clear that we serve the God who provides. Jehovah Jireh in Hebrew means, “The Lord Will Provide.” We first see this name given to the Lord in Genesis 22:14. God tells Abraham not to lay a hand on Isaac and instead provides the sacrifice through a ram caught in the thicket, so Abraham names the place “The Lord Will Provide.” This is in direct contrast to the name Abraham gives God in the previous chapter, El Olam, the “Eternal God,” where He is the enduring God, the God of the long term and big picture. Here, Abraham recognizes that God is also the God of the short term, caring for our needs of today. The two attributes beautifully compliment one another to convey that Yaweh is not a God of either/or, but a God of both/and. Hebrews 11 tells us that Abraham carried on in obedience because he believed God would provide. His ability to trust was because of who he knew God to be. 

Right now my soul so badly needs to remember that. I need to know that I serve a God who provides for today, like rain drops bringing sustenance to the sun-scorched crops. But I also need to know that my God takes care of the big picture; that he is holding my family 10 years from now; that this all somehow matters. 

The truth is, we don’t always get to know all the answers. Sometimes we can see the bits and pieces of the greater picture later on, sometimes we can see the good that comes out of the bad, but other times we walk through difficult seasons with no sense of purpose and no justification for the pain being felt. Those are the seasons we grab on tight to the hand of God and ask Him to steady us. Those are the moments when the need for a Savior and the longing for eventual restoration of all things is felt more than ever.

Sweet Jesus, erase our tears and bring about healing. 

In the meantime, I hope and I trust. Not because life is rosy or because I’m guaranteed a happy ending, but because I can be confident in my Savior God. He is faithful, He is merciful, He is good, and He is both my El Olam and my Jehovah Jireh. Like Abraham with Isaac, I’ll continue to step forward in obedience, trusting God to provide, remembering that he loves my sweet child even more than I do.

For any of you out there going through a difficult road with a child, my heart and prayers are with you friends.