And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
Psalm 46 ~ Be still, and know that I am God
Psalm 46 starts by telling us that God is our refuge, and he offers a safe place for our souls – the lifeforce of our beings.
Many of the Psalms speak of God’s protection for us. Psalm 91 says that when we put our trust in God, many beautiful things will happen. He will shield us from evil. He will rescue us from every trap. He’ll protect us from enemies. He will shelter us under his wings.
In Psalm 27 God promises that he will hide us in times of danger; he describes it as being hidden away high on a mountain in a crack in the rocks and well away from our enemies.
This doesn’t mean we won’t have troubles; everyone faces challenges in life, difficulties will come, but God will protect us, and the difficult circumstances will pass by. Through these challenging times though, we can grow the most spiritually.
Psalm 46:10 says, ‘Be still and know that I am God’. Some interpret this as two people, or countries, fighting should cease and remember God’s peace. It is also interpreted as being still in God’s presence.
However, there is another way of looking at it. The word still is a translation of the Hebrew word rapa, meaning “to be weak, let go, and release.” Essentially, it means to surrender. Our thoughts and emotions can run riot at times and make situations that are not perfect seem far worse. I feel that it is our minds that we must first surrender and make still to allow God to breathe into the situation causing concern.
This is how God is our refuge because he offers us space to quieten our minds and be still in the moment with Him. Not fretting over what has happened in the past or what danger there might be in the future. He offers a place to be still and rest in Him. Today, many of us overthink our issues, so it can take a while to start getting into this way of thinking, but it does work.
There is no need to fear the potential dangers of the future, and Jesus himself was certainly not averse to risk. He led the disciples in a small boat into a ferocious storm; the disciples were terrified, but Jesus wasn’t; he was their refuge and calmed the storm demonstrating the shelter of God in times of trouble.
As Jesus calmed the storm, we can also calm ourselves in times of distress as described by St Paul in his letter to the Philippians. He advised them to keep their minds on whatever was true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy; only think about these things he said. Philippians 4:8
To conclude, I would like to share a true story of how the mind can magnify our troubles – and faith in God is always a better way.
I was going through a difficult time and was quite distracted by my thoughts, which seemed endlessly churning within me. Then one day, I could not find my car/house keys; after searching high and low, I concluded that I must have left them in my front door lock (a terrible personal habit that I am now cured of) and that they had been stolen. So the first thing I did was get a locksmith to change the door locks and buy a good crook lock for my car.
I was so focused on securing my home and car that the initial difficulties troubling me completely left my mind as if they were of no consequence whatsoever; it was quite astonishing to observe the change in mindset as the drama unfolded.
I share this story to demonstrate what strange things our chattering minds can be, but once recognised as potential precursors of fear; they can be easily bypassed by our innermost selves (our souls), which God sees, protects, and loves most of all about us.
In times of trouble, there comes the point (after practical actions have been taken) when we need to stop and open our eyes to the chaos in our minds and hand things over to God. Perhaps saying to ourselves, ‘I will slip my mind into neutral now and hand this over to God’. This can provide comfort in the chaos and peace amid struggle. This prayer can teach you how to surrender your cares and worries to Jesus.
St Paul the Apostle wisely said;
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NRSV