Psalm 46 is a great comfort during times of challenge. And during this COVID-19 pandemic, its truth that we can ‘be still and know that I am God’ can help as many of us face uncertainty like never before. We asked Silas Balraj, Compassion’s Vice President of the Asia Region, to share a reflection on Psalm 46 to help us understand the meaning of the Psalm, and to seek out what Psalm 46:10 is calling us to do.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
“I want to share something that God has been teaching me in these very difficult pandemic times. If you look at the 11 verses of Psalm 46, the first 9 verses are actually speaking to the readers in the third person, but suddenly verse 10 alone is written in the first person. It is spoken by God and written as a personal expression to His people.
Silas Balraj, the regional Vice President of the Asia region, in Indonesia
“In the midst of a war, a situation of crisis, Psalm 46 verse 10 suddenly turns and God starts speaking and says, ‘Hey You!’, ‘Be still and know that I am God. The English language actually does not translate this very well, so I chose to read Psalm 46:10 in Hebrew and found out that the word ‘Be still’, ‘raw-faw, would be translated in English into ‘slacken’.
“The meaning of the scripture Psalm 46:10 is this: it’s is a picture of loosening or slackening our grip on our circumstances and the outcome of our circumstances. It calls us to trust God who is sovereign. In other words, here we are holding onto our lives and holding on to our everyday circumstances and we are holding on so tightly because the world is going so fast. And then God looks at you and me and says – ‘Hey slacken up! Loosen up or Let go of your grip !’
“Instead of including the words ‘Be still’ as a gentle suggestion, the psalmist is actually telling us to stop striving, to stop, and to specifically in this context, stop fighting and to surrender to the all Sovereign God.
Psalm 46:10: ‘Be still and know that I am God’
“Then Psalm 46:10 calls us to “know that I am God”. This is so very beautiful here. It actually means getting acquainted with and acknowledging somebody. This is not about knowing about God, which all of us are good at. This is about knowing Him personally. When you loosen up and you surrender you begin to know who you’re surrendering to and why. You’re there with the person whom you’ve given your life to, so you begin to know that person.
“It’s like in Philippians 3:10 when Paul says, ‘I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of the suffering, being confirmed to Him in his death.’
“Paul is writing from prison, after nearly 30 years of working with and walking with the Lord Jesus. He writes a blessing to the church, the modern-day New Testament church, and is saying, to paraphrase, ‘I want to know you not through my head knowledge. I want to know you through suffering and I don’t want it the easy way Lord, I want to know it the hard way.’ He begins to realise that ‘Lord I don’t just want to know you the way in which the world knows you, I want to know you through the power of your resurrection’.
“Many of us today maybe, are trying to know God with our intellect and God says to us, ‘No, I want you to know me at a personal level’. When we know God with our heart, we know that He is sovereign, we get to see his glory, we get to know His Majesty, we get to feel His power, and this leads us to be in awe of Him.
“That’s the reason why God says ‘When you are still and when you know me I will be exalted in the nations: I will be exalted in the earth’ in Psalm 46:10.
What is Psalm 46:10 calling us to do?
“I wonder today whether you and I are fighting this pandemic? Are we fighting this pandemic with fear, with our knowledge, with what the media tells us, with what our neighbours tell us, with what our church groups tell us and our colleagues at work tell us? Or have we surrendered to God?
“I’m the first one to say that surrendering goes against my basic instinct. Many of us are fixers. If something happens to us that is not in our minds, our thinking and our intellect, we want to fix it. I don’t know about you, but I love to control things.
“But if we look to Psalm 46:10, and let God speak to us, should we be concluding that God is saying,
‘step back, open your eyes and acknowledge who I am and let me be God’. Don’t try to do my job for me. Be patient, be still and let me do my work.
Testimonies of trusting God during the pandemic
“Even during these challenging times, I have seen God’s hand of provision amongst the children we work with in Asia. Our church partners have distributed over 1.3 million emergency food packs. They have also been able to give hygiene kits to more than 478,000 people and provide much needed medical and health support to nearly 32,000 people.
“As this story from our team in the Philippines shows, people have come alongside children living in extreme vulnerability, they’ve taken a step to sponsor a child and provide them with critical support during this pandemic, and long term stability for the future.”
“Please keep the Asia region in your prayers. Pray for the Church that she will be strong. Pray for our staff as they fulfil their responsibilities. Pray they won’t get tired of doing good. And pray for the children in Asia, many who are part of families who have lost even the little they had.”
Silas Balraj is Compassion’s Vice President of the Asia Region. He has been part of the Compassion family, serving children in poverty, for 17 years. Silas and his wife Gracia are blessed with three daughters.
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