Being Still (Even When Life Is Not)

Be still, and know that I am God.
– Psalm 46.10

I think the majority of the western world is familiar with this verse. It’s so vague it’s generally acceptable. In my personal journey in Contemplative Christian Spirituality, it is where I began.

When I first started practicing Silent Prayer, I didn’t know where to start. The Psalm 46 passage was a huge help; Be still, and know that I am God. Repeating that internally, quietly, and slowly was a shock to my normal flow of thought. It interrupted my neurosis, broke my cyclical emotional thinking, and directed me to the Source. It created room for the God to be with me, internally; where my consciousness would normally be crammed with self-absorbed obsessive thinking, there was room. Space for something other to be present. That’s not something they teach in churches. We’re taught how to think correctly, rather than how to think openly to the presence of Christ in all, and through all…including ourselves!

I revisit Psalm 46.10 in a new perspective now. Today, times are stressful. Money is short. Life is disorganized, inconsistent, and chaotic. “Be still, and know that I am God.” It is a difficult thing to do.

I know it’s tempting to think, “Be still and know that I am God and everything will work out just fine,” but I don’t believe in the prosperity gospel that some Christians subtly proclaim. I see people dying of hunger, thirst, and pain all the time, every day. We lost our first son before birth. Terrible things are happening all the time and have been since the dawn of time.

To think that if I do the right thing or pray the right prayer or believe the right way God will perform a miracle for my benefit is to believe in the gospel according to Harry Potter. It’s magical thinking and self-centric theology. I don’t think prosperity is what makes God good or relevant. That’s a very American, heretical, and deceptive idea of God.

So, if “be still and know that I am God” won’t help me pay the bills, sustain security or health, what good is it?!

That is an important question. It’s the questions we’re afraid to ask (and peacefully sit with for some time) that will lead us to the answers we so desperately need.

When we can answer that question for ourselves, within ourselves, we begin to know “God’s peace, which transcends all understanding.”

Be strong and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
– Joshua 1.9