What does it mean to ‘be still’?

2 Corinthians 12:8-10; James 2:18; Psalms 46:10

Be still? What does that even mean? Be idle while just praying and keeping the faith?! 🤔🤷🏾‍♂️

So I spent time yesterday thinking about this verse…”Be still and know that I am God”. Does it mean when we’ve got anxieties, after surrendering them to God we should idle away and perhaps just pray and keep the faith? I struggled with it because this line of thinking didn’t seem consistent with the rest of the Bible.

Then I read this Ellen G. White quote again: “After we have offered our petitions, we are to answer them ourselves as far as possible, and not wait for God to do for us what we can do for ourselves. The help of God is held in reserve for all who demand it. Divine help is to be combined with human effort, aspiration, and energy. But we cannot reach the battlements of heaven without climbing for ourselves. We cannot be borne up by the prayers of others when we ourselves neglect to pray; for God has made no such provision for us…. The unlovely traits in our characters are not removed, and replaced by traits that are pure and lovely, without some effort on our part….”

Then I asked some Christian friends and got this explanation: “Is there a time we should stop striving and leave everything to God?” There is. You stop striving when you’re out of reasonable options. You stop when you have nothing left to give. That is when God takes over the situation!” 😦💡🙌🏾

So what did David mean when he wrote “Be still…”? 🤷🏾‍♂️

1) The first is the context. So I read Psalms 46 again. It talks about the righteous being in great trouble, the earth being removed, the mountains thrown into the ocean, God’s holy city, and God melting the earth. This isn’t something that happens every day. It’s a clear picture of the “Day of the Lord”, the time when God returns, saves His people, and destroys the planet. In other words, Psalm 46 is prophetic! When that day comes, there is literally nothing more that God’s people can do to save themselves. The entire earth is against them. They’re about to die. They have no escape. And that’s why God says “Be still, and know that I am God”: there’s nothing else that they can do for themselves. God is literally their only hope.

2) The second thing to keep in mind is other texts about what to do in difficult times. One powerful illustration is in Genesis 32 when Esau came with a small army to meet Jacob. What did Jacob do? He sent a whole bunch of presents, servants, women, and children ahead of him to try and pacify Esau. He didn’t just pray. He did what he could to avoid death. Even after praying, Jacob gave Esau the inheritance so that there would be no room for jealousy or another fight. At the same time, Jacob realized that all of his efforts would be useless unless God helped him. So he stayed back and prayed as if his life depended on it. God answered his prayer and gave him the assurance that he would be safe. But if Jacob hadn’t given everything, he would have died.

In summary: The ‘be still’ verse is often misquoted. We’ve got to back up our faith with our works (James 2:18) and when we’ve explored all reasonable options on our own, God steps in! His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12:8-10). Prov 16:9 also gives us confidence that if we’ve been studying God’s word all through this time and praying, God would have been guiding our steps along the way for sure! 😁🙏🏾😇

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