Relax in God

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.  (Ps. 46:10-11)

Replacing anxiety with peace involves a choice. We must stop being anxious. We must quiet ourselves. We must deliberately shift the focal point of our attention. Inner peace doesn’t simply happen to us while we are being passive. Our will must be actively engaged. God makes this clear when he says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

“Be still” may also be translated “Cease striving” (NASB). The Hebrew word translated “cease” means to sink or relax. And “striving” is a term that typically refers to warfare. Therefore, God’s admonition may be stated this way: “Be at peace. Relax. I am God. You are not. I am the conqueror. I am Lord of all the earth. And I am all of this…for your personal safety.” It is this warrior imagery that stirred Martin Luther to write the hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, which begins this way: “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.” God is our fortress; he is a military stronghold, an impenetrable building where we can run to hide. He is our bulwark; he is a stockade, a wall of defense against earthly and spiritual enemies.

The theme of finding shelter in God permeates Psalm 46. Truly he is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (v. 1). “Therefore [because verse 1 is true] we will not fear…” (v. 2). But the psalmist also reveals how we plug into a real-time sense of God’s safekeeping power. When we feel our lives are in an upheaval, we can experience God’s peace by remembering his powerful deeds. “Come, behold the works of the Lord,” is how he counsels us (v. 8).

The way to “be still,” God says, is by knowing and trusting him. It’s by truly believing he is who he says he is. He is God. He is sovereign. He is in control. We are not. Therefore, we can rest. We can relax in heart, soul, mind, and body. The more we behold the works of the Lord (consciously meditate on them), the more confident we become. God is saying to us, “Stop worrying! I will get the victory. Stop acting as if this is your battle. Relax. Rest in Me. Not only am I the God of the universe, but I am your God. I will be your peace.” The psalm ends by repeating a key truth: “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” God’s presence is real. He is not far away. He is with us in all our trials, griefs, life changes, and anxieties. He is very near to us.

Anxiety hinders our faith, and clouds our focus. It disables us. It doesn’t want us to see the good works of the Lord. But we can put an end to worry by relaxing in God, by replacing our fears about tomorrow with confidence in the one who is in control today. We must remember the great works God has done—not only in the earth, but in our own lives. Chiefly, let us remember his greatest accomplishment: the redemption of our souls through the work of his Son!

  • Reflect: Resting in God involves pondering the many ways he has providentially cared for us, satisfied our needs, and demonstrated his power, love, and grace. What are some of the ways you have seen God’s faithfulness at work over the course of your life?
  • Act: Begin a “Works of God” section in your journal. List as many of these works as you can think of, leaving a few extra pages so that you can return to add more.

[UPDATE: Back in August, I asked you to pray for me, since I was in the early chapters of a new writing project. Thank you for praying and, if you will, please continue. Today’s post is another chapter from that upcoming book. I am less than a week away from completing this 31-day devotional, which is part of a new series from P&R Publishing. I will let you know when it releases (sometime next year). Again, thanks for praying!]

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