Be still, and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10
During times of fear and anxiety, people have often turned to Psalm 46 for comfort. In his meditation on this psalm, Timothy Keller explains why. The psalmist, he tells us, is contrasting earthly cities to the heavenly city, the city of God; while the first are subject to destruction by both natural and man-made disasters, the second is everlasting. Similarly, while the benefits of citizenship to our earthly cities can be stripped from us, those of the heavenly city cannot. The benefits of our citizenship to the heavenly city, Keller goes on to explain, are threefold. First, we are justified by faith. Second, through Christ, we are adopted into God’s family. Third, the holy spirit resides in us.
These three benefits, which only death can take from us, are the good things the American theologian and pastor, Jonathan Edwards, discussed in a sermon he gave in the early eighteenth century and which Keller breaks down in this way: If you’re a Christian, your bad things will turn out to be good; your good things can never be taken away from you; the best things are yet to come. If you believe all these things, then you need not fear.
Nestor believes these things. He sits perfectly balanced on his branch, protected on all sides by a canopy of other branches which conform perfectly to the shape of his body. He is safe here. He is free from the stress and the worries of the world below. There are no distractions, save a small boombox. If he’s listening to anything, it must be soft music, something without words.
King Ferdinand also believes these things. The large fish swimming just beneath his boat could topple it at any moment, and yet he naps in tranquility. He has pulled his crown down low on his forehead, to block out the light; he has removed the ticking watch and placed it near his feet, out of hearing. His sandals are there, too. He is not going anywhere; he doesn’t need them.
Both Nestor and King Ferdinand appeared to me in water stains unlike any of the others I had worked with up until that point. Neither of these stains have any suggestive features or interesting protrusions; they’re just boring-looking little blobs.
But like the Little Prince who could see the sheep he so desired inside the box the pilot had drawn for him, my inner child could see the perfect me inside the contours of these two water stains. This perfect me is at peace. She is not afraid.
To get to this place of peace and freedom from fear, she must continue doing what Nestor and King Ferdinand are doing: she must continue to sit in stillness. In stillness, there is God. In God, there is everything that is good. Even what appears to be bad. Under the rubble of her divorce, for example, she had found a child. Intact. Very much alive. The child is full of love; the child is all forgiveness. She has no interest in crying over years lost nor worrying about those that haven’t happened yet. She wants only to play and draw and paint. Here and now. This alone has already brought the woman the great gifts of calm and joy. These good things are just the beginning; the best, so Jonathan Edward promised, is yet to come.
Trusting God in Difficult Times – Psalm 46 Meditation (Timothy Keller, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pG1yCv_EYKI)