The more I talk with my cousin Jim about his days of flying with an Air Force weather reconnaissance team, the more I believe that the trials of life—cancer included—are a lot like flying into a hurricane…both require an inordinate amount of trusting.
Jim agrees with my observation and says it was difficult at first for him to trust he was going to be okay as his plane flew right into the eye of a storm.
“There’s a lot of trust going on when you’re going into harm’s way,” he explains. “You have to trust in the plane and the people who made it. You have to trust in the people who maintain the plane and that it won’t fall apart. And you have to trust the other crew members that they know what they’re doing. And they all have to trust in you—that you will do the right thing, too.
“But the more you do it, the more you know it’s going to be okay,” adds Jim, who has flown 44 times into the eye of hurricanes and typhoons.
Jim says the scariest part of the team’s mission to gather weather data is the five or 10 minutes just before the plane actually flies into the eye of the storm.
“You usually have to fly right through thunderstorms—which of course you normally would never do—and the turbulence is sometimes so severe you’re really glad you’re strapped into your seat,” he explains.
But what happens next is so incredible it helps keep people like my cousin flying again and again into the eye of the storm.
“When you break through the eye wall, dramatically and suddenly the turbulence stops,” Jim explains. “What was black and bleak is now calm, sunny, quiet, beautiful and really awe-inspiring. There’s blue sky above you and you’re like a little fish in the bottom of a bowl. You’ve found the exact calm center.”
Now I fully realize that unlike my cousin Jim, you have not chosen to fly into a hurricane. I also realize I can’t change the fact that your life has been touched by an imperfect storm, that your world has fallen apart and that you are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. But I believe with all my heart that when God meets your pain, the Creator of the Universe is able to lead you to the exact calm center. I don’t really understand how He does it anymore than I understand how the middle of a hurricane can be beautifully quiet. But my cousin Jim has been there so I believe him and God’s Word promises it so I believe Him.
“Be still, and know that I am God!…” Psalm 46:10
That’s where we find the exact calm center. It’s the place where we can relax in the tight grip of a sovereign God. We relax not because everything is okay, but because we know the One who is in control…and will one day in Heaven make everything okay.
Here’s how some other Bible versions translate that verse:
“Cease striving and know that I am God;” NASB
“Desist, and know that I [am] God.” Young’s Literal Translation
“Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God.” Amplified Bible
God says, “Calm down, and learn that I am God.” Contemporary English Version
The word translated “still” in Psalm 46:10 is the Hebrew word “harpu.” I’m no Hebrew scholar, but I did some research and found it conveys the idea of being weak, letting go, surrendering or releasing. It’s the opposite of striving with our arms up, ready to fight or at least defending ourselves. When we are “harpu,” our arms are at their sides, relaxed.
There’s a great story in the Old Testament that I think illustrates this idea. It’s found in 2 Chronicles 20. The short background of the story is that the Jewish King Jehoshaphat was told that some great armies were coming to attack him. His response was not atypical from what ours might be—he “was terrified and begged the Lord for guidance.” (2 Chronicles 20:3) Shortly, God answers his prayer by sending His Spirit to speak through one of the king’s men:
He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” 2 Chronicles 20:15-17
The king and his people believed God and began to worship Him, praise Him and sing to Him. At the very moment they did this, the Bible says God caused the approaching armies to fight amongst themselves and kill each other. The Israelites won the battle without a fight because God fought for them.
Standing still does not logically sound like a good way to win a battle. But then God’s ways are not our ways, are they? The armies coming against Jehoshaphat were way too large and powerful to be defeated by him. The situation was hopeless from his perspective—but it was hope-filled from God’s vantage point.
I know you or your loved one are in a difficult battle. Perhaps you at times feel the problem is too large and powerful for you and your situation is hopeless. But it is not really your battle—it is the Lord’s. Sometimes He will fight through you (when you need to push on through the pain) and other times He will fight for you. At those times, you can do as Jehoshaphat and the Israelites did: stand still and watch the Lord’s victory.
Be still, dear friend, and know that He is God.
(Today’s music video below is an instrumental with the lyrics–I hope you’ll sing along! If it doesn’t automatically load, please copy and paste this link to enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dl6h3ML2ut4 )