In this world where many disasters occur, both on the personal front and nationwide scale, I found myself joining the angst-ridden lot of consumers trying to deal with large conglomerations which treat their customers so atrociously that they are less than a number and no more than a speck of dust. As I felt myself growing more and more exasperated by the telecommunications company which had blithely taken our account details, confirmed a service, and then failed to provide the latter, I wondered why I was even bothering to remonstrate with a call centre operative in the Philippines for an internet and telephone connection to be provided in the UK.
I was still reeling over the audacity of a company that would cancel our order without first telling us that they were going to cancel it – not once, but twice (I really should have learnt my lesson the first time!) – when I decided to drive out towards Ambleside. The grey skies matched my mood as I drove through the Lakeland mizzle. Then, as I began to pass the natural and unspoilt beauty of Lake Windermere, I found myself gradually relaxing, until I began to wonder why I was trying to pit my puny self against the might of a multibillion dollar company, where its rich shareholders and directors care only about the money they make and its low paid workers couldn’t care less about their countless ill-treated customers who find themselves being blanked out by tinned music, bureaucracy, and scripted answers that do not actually answer.
It was at this moment that I realised how introverted my thoughts had become. In the last few days, news of the hurricane, Sandy, had been making the headlines. Many people had been affected and some had died due to these severe weather conditions. In other parts of the world, there are insurgencies, people are put into prison for their political ideologies or religious beliefs, others are suffering personal disasters ranging from mortal illnesses to bankruptcies, and here I was being cross over a telecommunications company that had failed to let me know that they had cancelled my order, and letting me find out for myself a day later. It certainly put everything into perspective.
Then, into my mind crept the verse: ‘Be still, and know that I am God’. (Psalm 46:10) What an apposite line of scripture indeed! As the New American Standard Bible translates it, we are adjured to ‘Cease striving and know that I am God’. Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains:
Be still – The word used here – from רפה râphâh – means properly to cast down; to let fall; to let hang down; then, to be relaxed, slackened, especially the hands: It is also employed in the sense of not making an effort; not putting forth exertion; and then would express the idea of leaving matters with God, or of being without anxiety about the issue.
I think that being ‘still’ so that we are ‘without anxiety’ is a very hard thing to do. It is in the human nature to worry – or at least it is in mine! To be ‘still’ before God in this instance is to hand over everything about ourselves to Him: our lives; our loved ones; our hopes and dreams; our fears; our souls. Yet, isn’t this what we do when we ask Jesus to be our Saviour and Lord of our lives? The reality of giving over everything of ourselves and our circumstances is certainly more than the sum of the words we pray!
So my thoughts moved on to those who are suffering from both natural and manmade disasters. Being still in these instances is not about not helping ourselves. It is all about trusting God and allowing Him to play a part in our circumstances. The fact of the matter of course is that not all of us will be rescued. Some of us will die. Others may linger and suffer. Yet Christians have to trust in God’s grace to see them through difficult times.
And as I pondered upon this tiny piece of Scripture, it suddenly dawned on me anew that we are talking about God here – ‘know that I am God‘ (my italics). He is God. If we believe this, then there is absolutely no excuse to mistrust His omnipotence and His lovingkindness.
Moreover, we are called to worship God whatever our circumstances. Think about Paul and Peter, two disciples who worshipped the Lord despite their experiences of imprisonment, harsh treatment, and poverty. Even so, they were blessed through those same experiences as they continued to trust in Him, laying down their lives for Him.
Thus my little run-in with a large company that does not play ball is really of little consequence in the wider scheme of things. It might be irritating and unsettling, but it is hardly disastrous. It was not worth worrying about. Be still. As for those of us who do face life-threatening or similar circumstances, whether they relate to us directly or to those we care for, we can still be still with God’s grace, by keeping in mind always the second part of this verse, ‘and know that I am God‘.
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