Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 8, 2004
Devotions for anguished people
By MARK PICKUP
"Be still, and know that I am God":
- Psalm 88
In Psalm 46, I read, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." How does that apply to a person who's been forced into stillness? God may be exalted among the nations and in the earth - but what about in my sickroom or my wheelchair? Is he exalted in my little world? Only I can decide.
If I chose to be bitter and angry, God would not be glorified in my world. I could have shut Christ out of my sickroom but that would have only made a tough journey tougher. And so I was still (whether I wanted to be or not) and asked Jesus to reveal himself in that psalm. He taught me surrender.
Surrender can be quite liberating. It is only in surrender that I began to sense he really was in my sickroom. For all the years before my sickness I had been too busy, too self-centred and self-satisfied, too self-sufficient to notice him (the Creator of all that is seen and unseen) was with me.
Even after my conversion, I preferred a comfortable Christianity that did not impose upon "my life" and chances for happiness on my own terms. But God knows me better than I know myself. He knew I would not truly seek him to become more Christ-like as long as my life was comfortable.
He knew that as long as my monumental pride was in the way, he could not be Lord of all my life.
As long as life was agreeable, I would coast along rather than surrender to him. What else could he do but make my life less agreeable - if it is sufficiently important that I discover my self-sufficiency is utterly insufficient, that my false happiness will eventually be stripped away to leave me utterly miserable holding a thin thread of superficial, retarded faith.
In the stillness of my sickroom, it became clearly evident that he was beside me: I could sense him move, feel his breathe pass over me, assuring me of his love. There in the stillness and solitude of the sickroom I first really noticed his presence - as though a gigantic fish slowly appeared out of the inky darkness of deep ocean water. I was awestruck by his majesty and wept with uncontrollable joy. I was still. At that moment I knew he was God and he was in control.
Everything that went before ceased to matter, all things extraneous to life began to melt away. The room was filled with raw humanity before the living Christ. Had disease not riveted me to my bed, I might have missed it!
Fifth century bishop Diadocus of Photice, stated in the treatise On Spiritual Perfection: "Therefore, we must maintain great stillness of mind, even in midst of our struggles. We shall then be able to distinguish between the different types of thoughts that come to us: those that are good, those sent by God, we will treasure in our memory; those that are evil and inspired by the devil we will reject.
"A comparison with the sea may help us. A tranquil sea allows the fisherman to gaze right to its depths. No fish can hide there and escape his sight. The stormy sea, however, becomes murky when it is agitated by the winds. The very depths that it revealed in its placidness, the sea now hides."
Jesus Christ was/is the illumination of my sickroom: He revealed himself in those words: Be still and know that I am God.
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