He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” — Psalm 46:10
As we go through life, we encounter so many challenges. At the same time, God has given us brains so that we may solve our problems. That’s a good thing because that’s how we learn and become better equipped to handle adversity in the future. As Israelis, we’ve witnessed this time and time again.
I once watched an expert on the Israeli economy being interviewed on American television. The interviewer wanted to know how today’s young Israelis had become so innovative. The Israeli expert explained that as a young country still figuring things out, there were so many mistakes made leading to everyday challenges in Israel. For example, an Israeli child goes to kindergarten and finds the hook is too high for his coat. So already from a young age, the child has to think about how to solve the problem. By the time an Israeli child is an adult, he or she is a master problem-solver!
Still, as great as it is to learn how to use our heads, there are other times when we can’t fix our problems – and we shouldn’t. Oftentimes, the more we try to help our situation, the worse it gets! It’s like being in quicksand – the more we struggle, the deeper we sink. When we encounter these situations, we need to remember these words from the psalmist: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Now, some background information is helpful here. Psalm 46, as stated in its introduction, was penned by the sons of Korah, the man who had rebelled against Moses in the desert and was swallowed by the ground. According to Jewish tradition, Korah’s sons, who had sided with their father, were also swallowed by the ground. However, as they went down, they repented. God created a miracle and He carved out a small niche underground where Korah’s sons miraculously survived. While underground they composed this and other psalms. They understood more than anyone that there are times when our situation is impossible, and yet, if we turn toward God, salvation can still come.
The beginning of the psalm described an impossible situation. Mountains quaked, oceans roared, and land fell into the sea. Yet, as the psalm begins, Korah’s sons affirmed that they would not fear since God was their strength and refuge. Similarly, when we find ourselves in situations that are beyond our control, we also need to turn toward God. We need to “be still.” The Jewish understanding of these words is that we need to cease trying to handle things ourselves. Instead we have to trust God. Then, He can save us from even the most impossible situations and bring us out of even the deepest and darkest places.
What situation is troubling you today? Be still, and know that God is in control.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President