Being Still in an Anxious World

"If only I had more time, or if I didn't have so much work to do, then I could finally sit still and meet with God."

Three weeks into a world being shut down, we might start questioning whether time was really ever our issue. Maybe our issue goes much deeper than that. Maybe, just maybe, Psalm 46 can give us some answers as to why it is hard to actually be still before God:

"Be still, and know that I am God."

If I was honest, this isn't how I feel every morning. Why is that? Why is it so hard for me to sit still with God? Why, when I have more time than I will ever have again, do I find myself worrying about the to-do's of today during my quiet time? The Psalmist makes it clear that these two things run together: knowing God and being still. So, it must be difficult because I forget who God is.

The action of being still and sitting before the Lord comes from a heart that truly knows that He is God. It comes from a heart that knows that God is not only sovereign, but tender. He not only numbered and named all the stars, but he binds up the wounds and broken hearts (Psalm 147:3-4). But this isn't just head knowledge. The "know" used in this passage is a relational one. It is one that affects not only our minds but leads us to a response.

When we fail to know God for who he truly is we can often struggle to be still. Here are two major ways this could happen:

1. We don't know God as big and in control. Riddled with anxiety we rush through our quiet times. Not taking anxieties to the Lord and trusting His power but instead trusting in ourselves. It is difficult to be still when we have too much to do, or too much on our minds, that overshadow who He is.

2. We don't know God as loving and intimate. God seems far away and cold. The thought of him being in control might be easy for us, but the thought that he personally cares for me feels impossible. How could God care for me and my needs? How can we be still with the (scary) thought of a God in complete control, but who lacks tenderness?

The rest of Psalm 46 describes two different scenes and one God running through both. It describes a world where natural disasters, wars, and chaos are happening and it describes a place of peace, life, and stability. Yet in both places God remains the same. In both chaos and calm, God is both in control and near, sovereign yet intimate. In heaven and on earth, God stays the same. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Through prosperity or pandemic, he always has and will be the same. One day He will be exalted among all the earth. Though the ground is seemingly giving way, we can be still because we know our God.

But how do we come to know this never changing God? We look to his Son. We look to Jesus who was the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). We look and see his humility and care for the sick and sinners (Philippians 2, Luke 5:31-32). We look and see his power over sickness, demons, nature, and death (Luke 4-5, Mark 4, John 11). We look to God in the flesh who calls us to cast our burdens upon him (Psalm 55:22). And we look to his ultimate sign of power and love where he bore the punishment for our sins so that we might have life (John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:21).

A God who is all powerful but is unloving is frightening and scary and causes us no reason to be still. A God who is loving but has no power brings no comfort because he controls nothing. Through Christ we see a God who is not only all-powerful and loving; he now invites you to be still.

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