Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Be Still and Know"

We were in Bangkok on September 11, preparing for bed after an utterly ordinary day of language school with no inkling the eyes of our nation were riveted to the television news. My dad called at 7 a.m. on September 12 and told me what had happened. He had to tell the tale at least twice because the first time I was convinced I had missed a sentence and he was describing an action movie he'd recently seen. Things like terrorists flying planes into buildings on purpose just don't happen in real life, after all.

Allen entered the room in the middle of my listening. I pointed vehemently to the television until he turned it on, and it remained so for days afterward whenever we were in our flat. The only Americans we knew in the city had already moved back to the U.S., so our community, though very sympathetic and kind, was Thai and Australian. It was possibly most alienated day of a difficult year, but our shock, grief, and displacement were nothing compared to the anguish of the families who lost loved ones that day and to the first responders immersed in the wreckage and rescue efforts.

Below is an excerpt from the letter we sent our prayer team on September 9, 2001, with as little idea as anyone else of the events about to unfold. Our primary concerns at the time of the writing seemed paltry days later, but the verse God brought to mind in the smaller needs held me up through the news of the graver tragedy, and it's still a reassurance I need today.

         This morning the voice of the Lord penetrated the fog to address my anxiety about all this uncertainty:  Be still, and know that I am God.  “Be still”–let go, settle down into My faithful sovereignty, let your muscles relax.  No ifs, ands, or buts; an unequivocal command....
         Be still.  I am God.  I will be exalted.... Be still and know...  Be still because you know... He is God.  He is in control.  He is exalting His name, though all evidence may appear to the contrary.  Believe it and be at rest.
         He offers no easy promises, no assurances of a quick resolution, or even assurances that I will be unharmed...  He promises, rather, a cross.  He guarantees suffering, but He also guarantees “a permanent, glorious, and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain” (2 Cor. 4:17, Phillips).
         Knowing and trusting that, it becomes us to let endurance have its perfect work in us, to learn the genuine and visible hope in the invisible workings of God, to glorify Him and astonish the watching world by rejoicing in any little trial He vouchsafes us.
         Oswald Chambers writes, “Tenacity is more than endurance, it is endurance combined with the certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire.  Tenacity is more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off.  Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered.”  It is only in the fogs of life that we can learn such tenacious faith.  May the Lord make us pliable in His hands to learn this lesson as He appoints.
Trusting Him—christina and Allen

A decade after the September 11 attacks, our country faces more uncertainty and insecurity, more opportunities to learn tenacious faith. God still speaks to us in the midst of national and global financial threats, high unemployment, troops in harm's way, wildfires, floods, and tornadoes, and so many other individual needs. Let us listen and receive the security only He can give even in the midst of the troubles.

God is our refuge and strength,
   a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
   though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam,
   though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

 4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
   God will help her when morning dawns.

6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
   he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress. 


 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
   how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
   he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
10 "Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth!"
11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortr
-Psalm 46, ESV

May you find grace in Christ to be still in God's fortress today.

Related posts:
Last week's thoughts on lament
A prayer for the nation

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