Do you ever feel like you’re being swept up in society’s relentless pace? Maybe you swipe through a social media feed and view the filtered lives of others and feel like you’re not accomplishing enough. Or perhaps someone or something is trying to fill the squares on your calendar before you have any say as to how you’ll spend them. As we practice being still in God’s presence, we can break free from a hustled life and experience God’s rest.
Throughout Scripture, we often find correlating words as if they are tethered together. This is true of the words rest and wait. Psalm 37:7 says, “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him….” The ESV translation says it this way: “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him.”
The Hebrew word translated as rest or be still is dāmam. It means to cease and be silent. Life is punctuated by seasons of waiting. And yet, in God’s economy of time, waiting is not worthless nor idle. We might be waiting for Him to perform work only He can do. Or, He might be calling us to wait because an idea, passion, question, or truth needs time to develop in our minds and hearts. Our faith matures as we practice waiting. Further, whenever God calls us to wait, He invites us to rest. Instead of restlessly waiting for an answer or action, ask God to help you experience His presence and peace as you trust His timing and plan.
In Psalm 46:10, we find another instance of “be still” in Scripture. We read, “Be still, and know that I am God…” However, the Hebrew word for “be still” here is different from the one we read in Psalm 37:7. The word used in verse 10 is rāp̄â, which means to withdraw, be alone, be idle, and stay.
What can we learn from these two similar words? There are many facets to being still. In today’s culture, to be still is seen as counterproductive, perhaps even lazy. Yet God’s idea of productivity and success differs significantly from society’s. As we practice ceasing from tireless pursuits, withdrawing from constant frenzy into God’s presence, and quieting our minds and hearts before Him, we can live a life set to the pace of His rest.
Before the Psalmist wrote, “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him…” there was groundwork to be laid in the preceding verses. We cannot experience God’s rest until we sort our affections and orient our faith.
In verses 3-4, we read: “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” To experience God’s rest, we must first trust and delight in Him. As we do, we find a perpetual growth cycle in our faith. Our souls are more restful as we trust God’s sovereignty and delight in who He is. And as we abide in His presence and rest, our trust and joy grow.
In this developing faith, our desires are met because our affections align with what He wants for us. The world’s idea of progress and profit pale in comparison. In Psalm 37:7, after writing, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him,” the Psalmist continued: “Fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way.” God is calling our attention away from the successes of those in our peripheral and toward His great plans and purposes. Trusting and delighting in Him, we are no longer weighed down by discontent or a tireless pursuits for more. Instead, we rest in God’s provisions and sufficiency.