The biblical advice to “be still” is not to be over applied to every situation. There are just as many Bible verses telling us to be active, to do good works, and stop waiting and get moving (Ephesians 2:10, James 2:17, 1 Corinthians 15:10).
With that said, there are times in life where God is specifically calling us to be still.
- When Problems Face You that Are Too Big to Do Anything About, God Is Saying, “Be Still”
Scripture is constantly telling us to take personal responsivity for ourselves. When talking about sin, James 1:14 says we shouldn’t blame anyone but ourselves, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” When talking about our gifts, here too we are taught to focus on what God has given us rather than comparing ourselves to others, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3).
So I’m in no way saying that you should just be a passive victim in your own life, doing nothing when issues come your way. But there are certain problems we face on this planet that go beyond us, like when it comes to nations, wars, natural disasters, and other calamites we can’t stop. This is the context for Psalm 46. It states, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea . . . The nations rage, the kingdoms totter . . .” (Psalm 46:1-2, 6).
This was the context for the famous lines found in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” When you can do something to solve a problem, ask God for the grace to do it. But sometimes there will be nothing you can do, and in these moments God is saying, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
- When You Deserve Vengeance on Someone, God Says to “Be Still”
There’s a difference between personal wrongs compared to crimes. If someone has committed a crime against you, you should report that to the authorities so that the governing officials can execute justice and keep others safe (Romans 13:1-5). Additionally, if someone’s sin can cause harm in the church, the leaders of that church should be made aware so they can discipline that person and protect the flock (1 Corinthians 5:12-13, 1 Timothy 5:19-20).
But when it comes to personal wrongs against you where you deserve vengeance, the Lord says to leave it to him, following the example of Jesus, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). As Psalm 37:7-9 states:
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.”
- If There’s a Storm of Emotions Raging in Your Heart, God Says, “Be Still”
When we are emotional, hurting, or going through something traumatic, so often the words begin to pour out of our mouths uncontrollably. But Proverbs 10:19 states, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking . . . .”
We live in a culture that values communication above silence. We have been taught that it’s always best to express yourself. When you have a problem, the common advice is, “You really need to talk to someone.” Of course, according to the Bible, there is a time and place to share your concerns and talk about your issues (Galatians 6:2, Proverbs 15:22). But we have forgotten what Scripture also says about remaining silent, being still before the Lord, and seeking peace in our hearts before letting our lips spill out our complaints (1 Corinthians 10:10, Philippians 2:14, James 1:26, James 3:6-10, James 4:11).
When the storm was sinking the disciples’ boat, they awoke Jesus in a panic. Mark 4:39 then states, “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” But then he rebuked the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40).
You don’t need to always talk about everything. If you want the emotional storms to stop in your heart so you can experience “a great calm,” you must listen to the words of Jesus, “Peace! Be still!”