We all know that trying to stay calm when everything around us is falling apart is one of the most challenging principles of being a child of God. We are living in uncertain times. The year 2020 did not start off positively. For many, this year will bring hardship. Millions around the globe will lose their jobs as businesses struggle to survive the Covid-19 pandemic. Financial struggles will bring many other challenges with it. The world we once knew in 2019 may take some time to reset to what we once called “normal”. The world may change, but we know that the God we love and serve is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Heaven and Earth may pass away but His word remains the same (Luke 21:33). He will make a way where there seems to be no way.
Psalm 46:10 New International Version (NIV) says: “Be still, and know that I am God…”
But in our head we scream out, how God, tell me how? How do you keep it together when you just want to run, run away from the crisis? How do you remain calm? How do you even look at God, when you feel like life is just spinning around you? You just want to escape. And you hate it when people say: just let go and let God. But no one will tell you how to let go. You want to fix it all by yourself. You gave God a chance and it is not like how you wanted it to be. Have you felt like this?
Through the years, I have learnt that patience and waiting for God’s timing and His perfect plan was the key to unlock new doors that He wanted me to focus on and open. A simple act of patience. To be still does not mean that you have to sit in one place and wait for the world to come to you, neither does it mean you need to give up everything and wait for God to answer you. To be still is not a change in your physical state. The art of being still is a spiritual behaviour of peacefulness, tranquillity and quietness. It is a heavenly space where you wait for God’s direction. In stillness, there is no room for fretting, anxiety or panic. It’s a state of spiritual calm and an overwhelming sense of trust that takes over you to guide you to the place where God is in control. It’s a place of total surrender and dependence on God, being mindful that He is all knowing and He is in control of the situation. It’s a place in your spirit where you allow God to make the decisions with you. He is in the stillness.
It’s human nature to respond to stress either by flight, fight or maybe even freeze. Stillness in God is not a ‘freeze’ response. God does not want to you stop what you are doing and he definitely doesn’t want you to start moping.
The bible reminds us that we need not fret. Psalm 37:7 (NIV) says: “7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” We live in a fast-paced world where everything is speed to market. I recently planted lettuce seedlings, it took like 3 weeks to harvest my first crop, and I thought to myself how we take for granted the process of growth. Imagine telling your boss, “You need to be patient”. Patience is a word we don’t want to hear of in this never-sleeping world. James 5:7-8 (NIV) says: “7Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” Beautiful things happen when you are patient. God will renew your strength according to Isaiah 40:31 New King James Version (NKJV): 31 But those who wait on the Lord. Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Beautiful things happen when you are patient. God will renew your strength.
God is there waiting. Psalm 27:14 (NIV): “ Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Here are 5 simple principles that encouraged me in my time of brokenness. God’s word taught me how to be still and know that He is God.
1. Speak less, meditate more.
Stop pacing, mumbling, groaning and moaning. Like the children of Israel who were lost in the wilderness on the exodus out of Egypt. They complained about everything. What could have taken them a few days got them lost for 40 years! You see, you need to quieten your inner chatter; that voice of negativity in your head, and leave room for God to speak and give you clear direction. He wants to speak to you, just as Moses had to be in the mountains to see and hear God, in a quiet place. Exodus 33:21-23 (NIV): “21 Then the Lord said, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen’.”
Stillness is a quiet place, in the cleft of the rock, your secret place to converse with God. Let God minister to you, He has a plan for your situation, you just need to be still and listen.
2. Take a lesson from Esther.
We read of Esther from the book of Esther; a young beautiful Jewish orphan who was raised by her cousin, Mordecai. The King Xerxes was the king at the time and he was married to Vashti. Vashti displeased the King and she was removed as his Queen. The King then ordered for her to be replaced and Esther was one of the young women that were selected to be a potential wife to the King. Esther pleased the King and soon became his Queen. During their reign, Esther kept her nationality and her family background hidden from the King. Now, there was Haman, one of the kings highest principal ministers, who Mordecai refused to bow to. This frustrated Haman and he soon learnt that Mordecai was a Jew. Haman goes to King Xerxes. Esther 3:8 (NIV): “8 Then Haman said to King Xerxes, ‘There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. 9 If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury’.” The King, soon after, sent out an order to have all Jews, young and old, women and children, killed. There was great sorrow and mourning amongst the Jews. Esther soon learns of the fate of her people.
At this point, Esther could have burst into the King’s chambers and demanded that the order to kill all her people be stopped immediately, but I admire her patience, her courage and level-headedness. She was collective in her strategy.
She wears her suffering well.
Esther 4:15-16 (NIV): “15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish’.”
Esther immediately goes into her place of stillness and waits. She fasted with her people for three days, both day and night. When you need God’s intervention, you will need a group of likeminded believers to stand in prayer and fasting with you.
On the third day, she got dressed up! Can you believe this? You go, girl! How often, when we going through trying times do we look and feel like hell? Getting dressed up is far from what we want to do. I love this girl, her people are about to be executed and she keeps it all together. She is still! She does not fret, she did her ground work, she fasted and it’s time to meet the King. She puts on her royal robes and she stood before the King. Esther wears her suffering well. The King is delighted in her and allowed her to touch the tip of his sceptre, a sign to say that she is allowed to speak and state her request of the King.
Here, you might think that she is ready to vent her anger and her furry at Haman and the King, and demand that the order to kill her people be stopped. But Esther is far more than that. She requests for a banquet to be held with Haman, the King and herself. Once more, Esther surprises me. A banquet, really? Is this the time for a celebration and feasting? On the first banquet night, Mordecai is honoured and rewarded for informing the King of a conspiracy to have the King murdered. This was no doing of Esther or Mordecai. I believe that this was God rolling out His plan for Esther. I encourage you to read Esther chapter 5 to 7, so you can find out how it all played out. It will surprise you. So, just when I thought that one night of banqueting was sufficient, this was not so according to Esther! She requested for one more night. Patience is a strong component to be still and know that He is God.
On the second night of the banquet, Esther reveals to the King in Esther 7:3-6 (NIV):“3 Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life-this is my petition. And spare my people-this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.’ 5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, ‘Who is he? Where is he-the man who has dared to do such a thing?’6 Esther said, ‘An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!’ ”
Haman was then impaled on a pole that he had prepared for Mordecai, and the Jewish people were saved.
3. Get up and get moving. Trick the enemy.
Now, fear, depression, or even a break up with a friend can keep you psychologically tied down. Whether it is money matters or relationship issues, it can break you. But, what I love the most about being still and knowing that God is God, is when you learn how to trick the enemy. You see, when you are broken and you feel hopeless and worthless, the devil loves for you to remain in this position. You may be walking around with a sour face, unkempt hair and you want the world to see your pain. But let me encourage you today. When your outward behaviour contradicts what you are actually feeling, great things start to happen. Do not draw attention to that thorn that is in your flesh. Wear your sack cloth under your clothes. Smile even when it hurts. As Esther did, get dressed up, and show up where you need to be. Trick and confuse the enemy to a point where he will be convicted that his fiery darts don’t work on you.
4. Raise a song in the midst of the war.
In 2 Chronicles we read of King Jehoshaphat, who defeated the Moab and the Ammon, and one of his strategies for battle was to send men to sing before the army. Why not lift up your voice in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord?
2 Chronicles 20:21 (NIV): “21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever’.” And as they began to sing, the Lord set ambushes against the enemy.
Can you see how God steps in the moment we let go and do what we are born to do? Let’s praise Him because the battle is the Lord’s. In your stillness, praise Him.
But look at how word of victory spread. 2 Chronicles 20:29-30 (NIV) says:
“29 The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.”
We not only confuse the enemy with our song, but the power of God begins to spread in the camps of the enemy. Be still and let God give you rest as he did for King Jehoshaphat.
5. Don’t burn out.
In Mathew 25 1-13, we read about ten virgins who were en route to a wedding banquet. They each carried lamps, but only five wise women carried extra oil to last the long journey. The wait for the groom also required their patience, as the groom took some time to arrive. The girls soon fell asleep and the lamps of the five foolish women soon burnt out. But the five wise women who carried extra oil were able to replenish their oil and had sufficient oil to light up their journey. While the five foolish women went off to get more oil, the groom arrived. Only the five wise women arrived on time before the doors of the banquet were closed.
He will prevent you from being in the dark at your darkest moments.
Your situation may require time to turn. Your patience and your ability to endure will be tested. Are you prepared for the wait? Will you burn out? I believe that the oil in the lamp symbolizes the Holy Spirit. You are going to need more of him through this journey. The Holy Spirit is going to keep your fire burning. He will prevent you from being in the dark at your darkest moments. So be still and keep your light on, for God promises us that the He will deliver us in His time.
Psalm 46: 10 (NIV): “10 He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’.”
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Brilliant perspective on being still
I remember having to learn this the hard way after my divorce. After a couple of unhealthy rebounds, I spent five years focusing on my true self, my relationship with God, and waiting for God’s plan to unfold. It was well worth the wait!
Thank you JoAnn
He is our strength and our Joy! Stay in Him!