Today more than any other time in history I think we are surrounded by noise. We live in a busy time that seems to thrive on all the chaos and noise of our lives. We drive on the highway and hear noise, wind noise, as well as trucks and cars passing us or we are passing them. We have our radio on and that makes noise. We go to work and find more noise. Noise seems to be everywhere and so often I feel that the noises are competing for my attention. Gone are the days of long pauses and silence. In fact my son asked me the other day if silence is a noise! In some ways I think it can be. I remember years ago someone came from Hong Kong to visit me in the rural setting of Nebraska. They couldn’t stand the silence; they didn’t feel comfortable in listening to just the birds singing or the wind blowing. Why? Because they had grown up in a large city surrounded by so much noise and had never been in an atmosphere that was quiet. Yes, we certainly have a world of noise. And yet I believe that noise is not always good for us. I believe that we need some time in quiet and perhaps even solitude in order to hear the soft whisper of our God.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah, Psalm 46:1-11, (English Standard Version or ESV).
I have often felt the need for quiet during times when I am in the midst of a life storm. I remember when my brother died at the age of 22 and all the emergency personnel were standing around not really knowing what more they could do and yet not leaving I had to go outside and away by myself to cry out to God from the deepest places of my heart. I simply couldn’t stand to hear voices but I also couldn’t stand the sweet chatter of the birds that morning as they went about their daily dialogue. I was in pain and needed quiet. I felt the same way during times of extreme illness, even the footsteps of the nurses made me ache and I wanted quiet. I also felt that I couldn’t stand noise when my husband came and said he was leaving. I needed time to think and pray and try to understand during these most frightening life storms. I am so glad that King David felt this kind of emotion and expressed it so well in Psalm 46. Where David went for strength and comfort is the same place I go, to God.
I have often noticed that God doesn’t seem to speak in the midst of noise; rather it is in the midst of my personal turmoil that I seek God and long to hear His voice. Perhaps it is the crisis that makes the noise stop so that I can hear what God is saying. Or perhaps it is the crisis that makes me run to find God more than during the noisy times of my life. I don’t know, but I am forever grateful that God is my refuge. I can imagine that you are also glad. As I read about the river in the midst of the city in this passage, I can’t help but think how beautiful it must be. You know some cultures view time as a river and as time flows constantly we must move along with it. Other cultures view time as a body of water in a lake where the water moves but always comes back to where it began. I think that the river where God is brings healing, hope, salvation, and the peace that only Christians can understand. I am thankful that God flows through my life. I know that I never have to fear the rise or fall of nations, the turmoil that the world is in, or the frenzy that seems to hold our world hostage because God is in control of it all. My God has me in the palm of His hand and will protect me, will take care of me, and will watch over me. I know that my life on this earth is not ended when death comes because I am a Christian and will live forever with Jesus as my King and God as my Father. That is comforting in the noise of life.
That last part of this passage reminds us to look at our world and see God and all that God has created and controls. God makes wars end that humans under the influence of Satan have created. God makes sure that armies are broken and some never rise up again. And when we really view our world from the vantage point of God we will be still. We will stop. We will marvel at the greatness of our God. Praise comes from our hearts and our lips when the awesomeness of the power of God and how He is in control of all the chaos really dawns on us. Just as in the midst of my private life storms I stop and acknowledge that I am not in control of life but that God is and that there may never be understanding in the midst of it all but that God will make the best decisions for me because I am His child. God will be exalted in the midst of all the chaos, whether that is a national crisis or a personal one. God will make a way for me because I am His child. Sometimes the best for a person is death and we who are left behind must accept that fact and praise God for His kindness to our loved ones. We can’t live in these human bodies forever; we must die and be granted our eternal bodies which will never wear out! That is an awesome thought as well.
Today, right now, why not take some time to turn off the noise for a while and spend some time with God. Why not stop and be still and acknowledge and thank and praise God for all He is doing in your life. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Take a moment to say thanks. Take a moment to hear what God wants to say to you, through His word, through the Bible and through your prayer time. Our world is too noisy for us to hear what God wants to tell us. Take a moment to walk outside and feel the warmth of the sunshine on your face that God has created for you to enjoy. Breathe in the fresh air that God has provided for you today. Enjoy some quiet time with your Lord and be revived in the confidence that God is in control and all will be well.