Be still?

This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from the heart of Ghassan Khalaf (from Lebanon.  Amidst bombings and destruction, Brother Khalaf faithfully visited victims of war to encourage them in their faith), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.  The disciples woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, don't you care if we drown?' (Mark 4:38)

Often in life we go through times of troubled circumstances, like the disciples of Jesus at the Sea of Galilee.  Our distress becomes very severe to the degree that we do not see Jesus who is very near to us; like the disciples in the boat who were so overwhelmed by the stormy sea, that they couldn't even see the peaceful face of the Savior who was asleep on the cushion in the stern of the boat.

We feel that God does not care; that He has forsaken us.  We begin to make the loudest noise we can to attract the attention of Heaven.  We even wish to disturb God and make Him see our need.  Just as the disciples, who lost their patience and disturbed Jesus while He was resting:  'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea:  'Be still.'  But He also rebuked His disciples:  'Why are you afraid?  Have you still no faith?'  So let us in our turmoil be quiet.  Let us have faith and not disturb Jesus.  He is with us.  He is closer to us than we think He is.

A moment of introspection: When in life we have troubled circumstances--when the way ahead seems unpromising, difficult and ominous--do we feel God doesn't care?  In 1901, Frank Graeff wrote the lyrics to a hymn familiar to many, entitled "Does Jesus Care".  In the lyrics of this hymn, the author presents our troubled circumstances.  They include a heart pained too deeply for mirth, pressing burdens, distressing cares, our way growing weary and long, our path being dark with nameless fear and dread, failed attempts to resist temptation, unassuageable grief, flowing tears, etc.  Yet Mr. Graeff's conclusion, having enumerated this sample of troubles we may face, nonetheless is that "I know He cares; His heart is touched with my grief!"  Romans 8:35 asks us what or who can ever separate us from Christ's love?  Take a few minutes and read the certainty of Paul, the apostle, as he penned the verses to the congregation in Rome (Romans 8:31-39); or, hear the apostle Peter strongly aver, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7).  Paul had no misgivings about Christ's care for him or for us.  Peter likewise knew with certainty that God cares for us as He did for Peter.  In this day of increasing angst, worldwide--due to terrorism, feeble economies, high costs of basic necessities, concern for the environment, political unrest, etc.--as Christians, contrasted against all other peoples, we can state with confidence that we trust in Christ and in His Father.  If the disciples did something right, in the passage from Mark stated above, it is that in their distress they sought Jesus out.  Why?  Because they, too, knew Christ's power from on high.  In their fear, they sought the cure; they sought the One in Whom their faith had come to trust.  They spoke to Jesus and told Him their cares, their troubles in the moment.  

Let us take this a step farther.  Christ's response to His disciples' plea for help, was to question their faith.  Even as a muscle grows when it is exercised, so too faith grows as it is tried and used and exercised.  As His disciples acted in trust of His power and His divine nature, their faith was exercised.  So too in our lives Christ may ask, "Have you still no faith?"  Our response to His query will be sturdier, and more and more assured, as we trust Him in our day-to-day lives, stepping forward (stepping out) in faith.  While trusting God is no silent exercise, we can be still as we exercise--counting on God to care about us, relying on Christ to walk beside us and to carry us occasionally.  There is strength in the Psalmist's words to us; "Be still and know that I am God."  In Psalm 46, David describes political and international turmoil, troubles everywhere.  But in the midst of such troubles, God calms us with His affirmation of His power, and His care for us. Step out in faith; trust God/Jesus; and more and more, we will be able, in trust, to be still.  Ghassan Khalaf has learned the "be still" level of faith and trust.  Our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world are learning; let us join the family of God in trusting and moving forward in faith.

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