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Hands Off!

“Let go and know that I am God;

I will be exalted amongst the peoples;

I will be exalted on the earth.”

(Psalm 46:11 {verse 10 in English})

 

This is one of those wonderful passages of scripture that is given to focus and comfort us at every turn in our lives. It is a passage that I have often quoted as I have counseled people struggling with hurt, loss, and anxiety and it is a passage that I have often quoted to myself as I have gone through struggles of my own. Much like a loving parent, God is saying to us, “Relax, don’t get so wound up in this or that, learn to trust my providence for my grace is sufficient for you.”

Typically, we see the first line rendered, “Be still and know that I am God.” Literally, the Hebrew word used here means to let go of something. It is a picture of God telling us to let go of all of those things that we are trying to control by our own efforts and he is saying, “Trust me, I will work things through.” Certainly that does not mean we are to sit back and never do anything because God uses us as tools to do his work in this world. But it does mean that we should not get so uptight about the process for God is in control. Jesus himself cautioned us not to feel anxious about tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34). We have a God who has ordered all things according to the counsel of his own will (Ephesians 1:11) and that God loves us, so why waste our days fretting and worrying about what might happen or about what might have happened. We can only live in the present; God says, “Let go and know that I am God.”

I suppose that letting go is one of the hardest things for us to do. Our struggle with doing so goes back to the Fall of Adam and Eve, each wanting to do their own thing rather than trusting a loving God to order their days. How much we have yet to learn as we go through the process…

But do not miss the rest of this verse in the context of the psalm as a whole. Paul writes in Philippians that there will come a time when every tongue will confess and every knee will bow that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). When will it be that God is properly lifted up amongst the nations and throughout the earth? It will take place when justice rolls down the mountains like rain upon the wicked and they are finally and eternally brought into submission to the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord. So why be still? Because the God we worship wins in the end…hands down and with no qualifications. And if we are trusting in him, then who can stand against us? Why should we fear the world when we serve the one who has overcome the world on our behalf? Beloved, this is the call and command of God, let go and know in the very depths of your being that our God reigns and he cannot be moved from the designs he has set forth.

The Sleep of the Beloved

 

“It is vain for you to get up early and go late to your dwelling,

Eating the bread of toil;

For he gives to his beloved sleep.”

(Psalm 127:2)

 

It may be granted up front that there is some discussion as to how to interpret the last line of this verse. Commonly it is rendered as I have done so here, but some would argue that it ought to be rendered, “for he provides for his beloved during their sleep.” Though the nuances of the psalm are changed within that translation, the essential meaning of the text remains the same. God provides for the needs of his beloved — and he does so in an abundantly wonderful way.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus speaks in much the same way. It is expected that the pagans will lay awake worrying all night, working long and thankless hours to provide bread for their families. Their idols are false creations of their own hands and imaginations. What benefit can a chunk of wood give me apart from helping to heat the house when I burn it in the fireplace? If I create something with my own hands, it contains no power to do anything but sit there. It has no life. One can draw no hope or assurance from such things.

But we worship a true and living God — one from whom we can draw assurances. He lives and is the God of the living (Matthew 22:32; Luke 20:38) and not of the dead; he gives us new life (1 Peter 1:3) and he gives us that life abundantly (John 10:10). And thus Jesus says to us, “why do you sit home and worry about what may or may not happen this week or even tomorrow?” Do we forget whom we serve? Our worry seems to betray that we do, yet to the beloved, God gives rest and peaceful dreams at night.

How often my dreams have been haunted by the cares of countless anxieties—anxieties that are projected in nightmarish ways. Yet, in prayer, there is rest for the soul. How often there has been tossing and turning rather than restful slumber; again, trust in God’s provision, believer, and you will find that rest will come. There is no need to fear what may transpire; our God is sovereign over all events (Ephesians 1:11) and has promised to work them all out for our good (Romans 8:28). What comfort there is in those divine promises to us! What rest we can find in that context!

For the believer, rest means more than sleep during the evening hours. Rest also includes rest from one’s enemies—the greatest of which are the spiritual powers of wickedness that roam this world like a roaring lion. They may roar, but we are held secure in the hands of our loving Savior (John 10:28-29); of what shall we fear? No, we are loved of God and true love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).

Loved ones, sleep well and dream well of the glory of our God. He will provide for your needs because he loves you (Matthew 6:31-34); the pagans eat the bread of their sweat and toil—enjoy the restful sleep that your Father provides.