Why does the psalmist tell us in Psalm 46 to: “be still and know that He is God?” because stillness is a most difficult position to assume; contrary to the idea of peace, being what all men desire, stillness is a time of silence and barrenness in which we forget such things as sovereignty and persons such as God? Stillness is motionlessness living, where man often struggles and wrestles with God. It’s the wondering if God has forsaken us. It’s the questions we begin to ask, “Where are all the ‘good things’ the Christian life has promised and why can’t my branches be heavy with fruit.” Why hasn’t God answered my prayers, why hasn’t God come through, why is he silent? Where is he, did he leave the room, was he ever here to begin with? These are the questions I ask myself in the stillness. Perhaps these are the questions Jacob asked the night he spent alone in no man’s land.
To be in the place of stillness is like a lake frozen over. It’s colorless and it’s fruitless; stillness is the empty, barren feeling we get when time seems to halt. When we stop producing, when we can’t seem to move forward and we don’t want to go back. Stillness feels like God has stopped-stopped working, loving, speaking, even being. Stillness is when suddenly or gradually, you begin to wonder if you matter at all, if God is real and if there is any purpose for your life.
When we are still, and there is nothing significant happening, it’s difficult to remember that he is God. It’s easy to see him as an un-involved, figment of our childish hopes and social dilemmas. We begin to think we should take over, that we can be God.
The psalmist says, be still and know that He is God. One without the other is impotent. If we are still but do not know that he is God, we are simply on vacation from our busyness. Faith and works, stillness and knowing, male and female- it is the two forces working together, which produces the seed, the fruit and the good works which God prepared us for.
As Elijah stood on Mt. Horeb the loud winds came, the fierce rocks shook and the mountain broke in pieces; all the power of fire appeared and yet, it was the sound of a gentle, blowing wind through which the Lord spoke to Elijah. there are moments in life when we cease to bring forth; we come to the end of our resources, ourselves and our knowledge. There, in that stillness, we have a choice- hate God or trust Him.
It’s not hard to be still, but it is hard to know him through that stillness; through the dark winter of the soul, when the soul is barren, the streams buried and color drained and we don’t want to speak, we would rather fight, because “it’s not fair!” It’s hard to trust that he hasn’t forsaken us. What will you do in that stillness when it comes upon you? Where will your thoughts lead you and how will you see God in those moments?
Stillness is a type of Sabbath. The ceasing moment in our active lives; the pause in the commotion the world thrusts upon us; the holy covenant amidst the business of man. When the psalmist tells us to be still AND while you are being still, while you are thinking, while you are meditating, while you are reflecting –then assure yourself, Jehovah is God. When the world seems to stop and life breaks for whatever reason, that’s when we need to know, aggressively, he is Still God. He hasn’t left us, forsaken us, or forgotten those who have known him, placed their hope in him, and loved him fiercely. This is the essence and beauty of Sabbath and covenant. It is not based on our success or failures, our silence or overzealous service. it simply rest on him being God.
Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Just as we are instructed to remember the Sabbath- for the purpose of keeping it holy, we must be still, for the purpose of knowing God. It’s torturous when nothing is getting accomplished and when there is no purpose bubbling to the surface, no work completed, no produce being harvested. The deep, winter share of the soul is a lonely and desolate space. It is a time when we are stagnant. The night is quiet, there are no voices heard that minister to the heart. Passion is dried out and tasteless. Your very spirit feels abandoned, lost and reeling with doubt; grace is a distant memory, growth is in a rapid decline, we cannot seem to move forward. It is then, the psalmist reminds us to know that Yahweh is GOD. If that’s all you know in the stillness-know that!
Mankind strives to be moving, producing, accomplishing and going. We believe that when we are moving at a decent pace, all is well. When we are distracted with work and reward, everything is ‘as it should be’, God is doing his “job”. When we are productive we are loved and accepted. however, we start to think there is something wrong with us, and with God, who is ‘supposed’ to be working all things to our benefit, when we are in the stillness. We often believe that when we cease to yield, we cease; but that isn’t true. Just as it isn’t true that in winter, a maple tree is fit to be chopped, although all indications of life have disappeared. We must know the Sabbath is a sign, not a gravestone. The Sabbath, which means to cease, is a sign, an attesting miracle of his covenant. therefore stillness could be an indication of his presence not his absence.
When the heart stops beating; we expect death, but in the gentle hour of motionless living…there remains life.
Because here is God and he is greater than your heart and he is greater than life. He can handle a little stillness. He’s not threatened by our winters, he’s not surprised by our silence or offended by our questions.
The psalmist knew, when we are still…He is still… God. Therefore, be still, and know, that He is God.