“Be still, and know that I am God.”
“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
Covid 19 has changed life for each of us. For some it has offered an unusual season of respite and reprieve from the usual grind. For others, it has amplified stress and strain to a previously unimaginable level. In both cases the change has come quickly and unexpectedly. Within our fast shifting circumstances, we can take comfort in knowing who has purposed and designed our new reality. The two psalms above offer us beautiful truths to console and direct our soul. Although these passages are similar, their contexts are rather different. Yet, the truths that connect them are immediately useful in our lives.
Psalm 46:10, a verse that most of us are pretty familiar with, is written in the context of war. This is God’s declaration of victory. Be still, and know that He is God. He cannot be thwarted. He will finish what He has started. No enemy can stand before even the breath that accompanies His speech. Be still, know He is God. Know He is a refuge to His people that no enemy can overcome. Enemies be still and know it is futile to fight against Him. Children be still and know He is present and will provide. For those of us for whom this season feels like war, we are called to rest in our Rescuer.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
Psalm 127 addresses those engaged in work. It does a wonderful job of reminding us how foolish it is to think we can accomplish anything apart from God’s grace and engagement. Our best efforts will catastrophically fail if they run contrary to God’s design. Our best plans will unravel when snagged upon the immovable, perfect will of God. And when they fail, we are invited to believe that God’s new course for us is better than our previous intentions. We can remain at ease in unexpected change because the One who initiated it does not change and He loves us. His plans may confound and frustrate us, but they are good and full of love.
So, we can rest. Do not forget that God carved into the creative fabric a day of resting for His children. This component of God’s design habitually reminds us that God is the primary actor and we are dependent on Him. We are able to rest because He is good, and He is at work. If we know and live wrapped in God’s love for us, we will find rest easy and pleasing. If we doubt His love and goodness, we will live cold lives filled with panicked activity in a vain attempt to fend off our daily fears and anxieties. God’s love lets us rest.
What does it look like for you to be still and know that He is God? What activities and rhythms help you remember He loves you and His plans are for your good? Know today that God is near to you, and He is offering you rest in the midst of your toil.