What is it to “be still”?
It came to me the other day that in Psalm 46, the psalmist was brilliant to put “be still, and know” before “that I am God.” It is not enough to “be still.” Being still requires that we know something about the goodness of God, no matter how much it seems otherwise.
It is in knowing God that we get our strength—strength to move and strength to “be still.” African Americans in captivity had to “be still,” even as they fought a most-heinous cruelty; only knowing that God would have the last word made them able to “be still” as they continued to work against the savagery of chattel slavery.
Being still is not an act of complacency; it is not stagnant. Being still is a verb, an action, which gives us the power to knock injustice off its game. The strength of those who know God is their ability to play offense, not defense, confusing and confounding an enemy that claims to know God but, in reality, only knows its own ideology, methods, and end goals.
When confronting evil, we cannot play defense. In knowing God, we are able to be still and yet play offense with the skill, grace, and power only the Master Coach can provide. Being still and knowing God does not mean we do not become impatient or, at times, even angry with God. God’s working plan is so different than our own, all of the time. But God is the Master Coach. We have to know that. We have to first believe and then know that God’s will is justice.
The systematic evils of racism and injustice ebb and flow, but they never go away. Our job is to “be still” yet do the work and seek shelter in our knowledge of the goodness of God. God is good—all the time—even when the game of life reeks with the stench of pain, evil, and injustice.
Knowing that fact will help us to “be still” and not give in to despair.
Amen and amen.