As the war in Ukraine stretches on, my heart has been heavy for the friends I know there, for the families separated, for those mourning losses, all while fighting for their freedom. I’ve heard countless stories of people helping one another and of God working in their midst through neighbors and friends. Stories of neighborhood women feeding soldiers on the front lines, moms leaving strollers at border train stations for parents who had to leave all their belongings behind, and soldiers throwing a birthday party for a little boy who was waiting with his family to flee to safety.
From where I sit, in peace and safety, I feel helpless to intervene, and frustrated and overwhelmed by all I see and hear in the news. My heart breaks for the tragedy I see unfolding and I find myself longing for God’s comfort and reassurance that He is present and working in this terrible situation.
A friend of mine in Ukraine was recently sharing how much comfort and hope she, and other people in Ukraine are finding in the Psalms. Another missionary echoed her thoughts, saying “The heartfelt pleas, angry outbursts, explosions of joy and moments of peaceful stillness -all match the rollercoaster of feelings happening within my own heart.”
One of my favorite verses that has brought me comfort and peace is Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God”. In the past it has been a gentle reminder of God’s sovereignty, love, and provision, especially in times of stress and difficulty. When life feels overwhelming and I feel helpless to change my circumstances, this verse invites me to rest before the Lord and remember that God is already powerfully at work.
Today, however, I read the whole Psalm instead of just my favorite verse and noticed some things I hadn’t noticed before. My favorite verse that brings me so much peace is surrounded by scriptures describing chaos and destruction. In verses 2 and 3, Scripture paints a picture of a world in tumult and crisis—mountains falling down, and oceans roaring and foaming. In verse 6 it speaks of nations in uproar and kingdoms falling. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the state of the world today and all we are witnessing in Ukraine. This part of Psalm 46 that had once felt so removed and abstract in times of peace, now hit hard and close to the heart.
But all of this chaos described in Psalm 46 is also contrasted with the true and steady character of God. He is described in verse 1 as an “ever-present help” in trouble, our refuge, our safe place. In verse 7, we are reminded that God is with us. And in verses 8-9 our eyes fall upon the hopeful promise that God will bring about an end to fighting and strife and make wars cease.
The truth is, God is far bigger and more powerful than any worst-case scenario we can imagine, and I can imagine a lot! Even when the world seems out of control, God is always in control, so there’s no reason to be afraid. This amazing truth was exactly what my heart needed to remember.
In verse 10, God is giving a gentle but powerful command to us to “be still” and know that He is God. He speaks to our frantic hearts with the same loving authority that He commands the winds and the waves. He calls us to surrender, cease striving, and rest assured with absolute certainty, that He is God.
So dear friend, when our newsfeed is filled with turmoil and chaos, and we feel helpless against the overwhelming troubles of the world, be still and know that He is God. He is the same God who parted the Red Sea, who freed captives and delivered nations and is at work this very moment. He is a mighty fortress and faithful deliverer. He is an ever-present help and He hears our prayers. We don’t have to fear, He is mighty to save.
Almighty God and Father,
Our world feels chaotic and overwhelming. As war and turmoil continue in Ukraine, our hearts are heavy with sorrow for those who are suffering. We pray for those who are weary and long to find refuge and rest under your wing. Be their ever-present help and hope. Be a fortress around them, and shield them from evil. Make wars cease, that you may be exalted in all the earth.
When our own anxiety rises, help us to be still, and remember that you are greater than anything we will see or experience in this world. You alone are strong enough to hold us steady when the wind and waves threaten to take us down. Help us to lean into your loving arms and feel the power of your presence and peace.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.