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Be still and know that I am God.
How comforting this is! However, it is hard to be still. There is a war going on in Europe right now. It affects every body. It affects our life. But there is also a war within us. The world is in turmoil. And we are in turmoil. The storms are out there and the storms are within us. Even if we are SITTING STILL, we are not still. We are struggling with internal turmoil, uneasiness, worries and anxiety.
I realized people don’t want to sit still. When they sit still, all the negative thoughts come up from within and we don’t like it. We don’t want to face the turmoil within us. So we distract ourselves, doing all kinds of things. We make ourselves busy.
It’s not that you don’t have time to be still. You don’t want to do that because it is not a pleasant experience. And now you DON’T EVEN KNOW how to be still. We are scared of facing our own insecurities, our own darkness, and our own inadequateness. It is better to feel good than facing these unpleasant realities.
What Kind of Faith
So, being still is hard to do, I realized. To be still, you need faith. What kind of faith? The faith the psalmist expressed in the beginning.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult. (Psalm 46:1-3)
We heard this passage a lot right after 911 in 2001 The whole world was shocked. US experienced tremendous turmoil and chaos. We saw the power of evil and darkness invading our personal life.
Martin Luther, the reformer, also saw the power of evil and darkness oppressing people. So he wrote a hymn inspired by this Psalm around 1527 and 1529.
A Mighty Fortress.
A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark (a Defensive Wall) never failing;
our helper he, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God has willed
his truth to triumph through us.
In the midst of turmoil, overwhelming power of evil, THEY BELIEVED THE POWER OF GOD. They saw the very present help in trouble.
We see wars around us but we believe in the power of God.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire. (Psalm 46:9)
To be still, we need to have this faith. We need to trust God even though mountains shake and waters roar. God is our help in our trouble.
The world does not teach you how to be still. The world teaches you to be productive. We are moulded and shaped to be PRODUCTIVE but we are not nurtured to be still. The world teaches you how to be effective, productive, and capable. But the world does not teach you how to be still.
The world wants us to become like machines. But we are not a machine. We are not a robot. These days, the world also recognizes the importance of being still, so they emphasize on training your mind, mindfulness exercise, and how to focus. But the ultimate goal is to make you more productive and efficient.
Byung Chul Han, who is a Korean-born professor of philosophy and Cultural studies in Germany said this.
Sabbath rest does not follow creation; it brings creation to completion.
He says that God made Sabbath, the day of rest, not because he had nothing to do. He created Sabbath to COMPLETE the work of creation.
It is a similar idea of Abraham Heschel, a Jewish scholar, who wrote the book Sabbath. He said, Sabbath does not exist for 6 days but 6 days for Sabbath. We need to restore the importance of Sabbath in our lives. We need to establish the theology and the lifestyle of Sabbath.
Rest is the completion of our life.
Another Korean scholar at Standford University, Alex Soojung Kim Pang said this.
We think of rest as simply the absence of work, not as something that stands on its own or has its own qualities.
He is saying that rest is not merely a negative space in a life defined by toil and ambition and accomplishment.
If your work is your self, when you cease to work, you cease to exist.
Rest is not work’s adversary. Rest is work’s partner.
They all emphasize the importance of rest. Rest is completion of everything we do.
The Eternal Rest
That is how we Christians see death. Hearing the death of his friend, Lazarus, Jesus said this.
Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him. (John 11:11)
Sleep is a short death and death is a longer sleep.
When we finish our life here on earth, what completes our life is the rest, the eternal rest.
Linda, Ken, and Wain’s mother passed away last Tuesday. I went there on Monday to have the final worship with her. She passed away the next day. She lived a good life and went into the eternal rest. Her life has achieved completion.
Rest is not just being mindless, numb, and switching yourself off. Rest is not just physically taking a break. Rest is being still. Rest is to give your whole self in God’s hands. To be still, you need faith. How important it is and how much people struggle because they cannot really be still and have a true rest. They can’t sleep. They are struggling because of worries and anxiety. There is no peace in their minds. No matter how much they play, they don’t have this wonderful peace.
Jesus said this.
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Coming to Jesus is the act of faith. You cannot just come to Jesus. You need faith to come to Jesus.
That is how John saw.
Everything that the Father gives me will COME TO ME, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away (John 6:37)
No one can COME TO ME unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day (John 6:44)
When you come to Jesus, Jesus will give you rest. Then you can be still. You will know that God is there to help you. You will know that God is your refuge and strength, and a very present help in trouble.
The mountains may shake and tremble and the waters may roar and foam, but you will be able to be still. These angry waters will become calm and become a river whose streams make glad the city of God.
Verse 4 is a very interesting verse.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High. (Psalm 46:4)
There is no river in Jerusalem. And yet the Psalmist said that there is a river. It is a spiritual imagination.
In your life, there may be angry waters that roar and foam, but they will become calm and become a river whose streams make you glad.
Be still and know that I am God.