There is a lot of noise in our world, isn’t there? From our third-floor apartment I hear the noise of traffic – cars, emergency vehicles, machinery, the beeping of the trash truck as it backs into our drive. When I take my pup outside, just as he is about to focus on why he’s out there, a flock of geese fly over and he is distracted. There is the sound of leaves blowing around and branches falling in the river. There are voices we hear in the hallway and a child running in the apartment above us. Of course, not all those sounds are unpleasant. Certainly, the sound of church bells ringing from downtown is comforting. And across the river is the country club where we sometimes hear music from a wedding reception. Next door is a fine restaurant where people sit outside on the patio and talk and laugh. I will miss hearing that sound with winter coming.
But there is noise flooding over us that often affects us before we even realize it is happening. As we get closer to election day we are bombarded with political rhetoric from both sides – ads and news and critical, hateful statements. Some people say they just don’t listen to the news, but I do, because I sincerely want to make a thoughtful decision when I vote. I try to evaluate all of what I hear and discern what is true and what are lies. And it’s the same with the Covid-19 pandemic. We have so many opinions and reports; so much to be concerned about. I see great frustration with my family as my Michigan grandchildren are still not going to school onsite. My daughter works at home and has the pressure of keeping her teens on task with school and it is difficult for them.
There is a lot of noise coming our way from all of that, as well as other issues in our lives. Some people recognize that they can’t deal with loud sounds and they know it affects them in negative ways. But people like me go along for a while before realizing just how stressed they are. This is how I’ve always been so you would think by this time in my life I would do all I can to protect myself before it happens.
I love the verses in the psalms where the Lord says to the psalmist:
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:7
I found that interesting as we hear accusations of corruption and lies.
And again, the psalmist writes that God 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
I read those verses and know it is time to be still and meditate on God’s word and promises. To breathe in those comforting assurances, to allow the Holy Spirit to calm my soul, to remind me that no matter what happens in politics or even with a pandemic, the Lord is with us and ultimately in control of our lives.
The other verse I’ve been thinking about is when Jesus and the disciples are in the boat in a violent storm. Jesus is asleep but the disciples are terrified and cry out to him. Mark writes:
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:39
I am a hard-headed child of God! Sometimes I have to finally be hit hard with noise before I realize it is affecting me negatively. But that is not what God wants for His children. We are told in Scripture to follow Jesus’ example of going to a quiet place and praying. Take the Bible along and read those comforting promises and spend time meditating on them. Breathe in the Word of God and breathe out the tension and jumbled, stressful noise. Let go of fear and frustration. Say to yourself what the hymn says,
Be Still, My Soul
Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain Leave to thy God to order and provide In every change He faithful will remain
Be still my soul thy best, thy heavenly friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end
Be still, my soul, thy God doth undertake To guide the future as He has the past Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake All now mysterious shall be bright at last
Be still, my soul, the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Songwriters: Jean Sibelius / Dan Bird
Be Still, My Soul lyrics © Word Music Llc, Talking Oak Music, Word Music, Llc
I pray you will be blessed with these words and the song, sung by Cindy Buckner Powell.