Near the end of the 46th psalm, there is a curious sentence. The rest of the psalm is narrated by a person who reassures us that God is has all power. Even though terrible things might happen—”the earth be removed,” “mountains be carried into the midst of the sea,” “the heathen [rage],” and “kingdoms [be] moved”—God can always calm these storms, whether natural or man-made. But this sentence is different. For this one moment, God speaks directly to us:
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.Psalm 46:10
The Hebrew word translated “be still” in this passage is harpu (הַרְפּ֣וּ), which means literally to relax, to let go, to stop trying so hard. Some other translations of the Bible render this word as: “cease striving,” “calm down,” or “let go of your concerns.”
In 1833, when members of the church in Missouri were suffering severe persecution, the Lord gave them this same reassurance. Don’t worry about things that are beyond your control. “All flesh is in my hands,” He said; “be still and know that I am God” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:16).
He meant that we can be still when we really know that He is God. Our anxieties and our desperate attempts to control the uncontrollable can be replaced by peace the moment we acknowledge that He really is in charge.
But there is another way to look at this instruction as well: Sometimes we can only hear His voice and know that He is after we have intentionally stilled ourselves. Enos prayed in the wilderness all day and into the night before he was ready to hear the voice of the Lord (Enos 1:1-5). Before the Savior appeared at the temple in Bountiful, the believers who were gathered heard a voice three times. The first two times, they didn’t understand, but the third time, “they did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came” (3 Nephi 11:5). Listening intently and eliminating distractions were prerequisites to hearing and understanding God’s voice.
President M. Russell Ballard gave the following counsel:
Everyone needs time to meditate and contemplate….
We all need time to ask ourselves questions or to have a regular personal interview with ourselves. We are often so busy and the world is so loud that it is difficult to hear the heavenly words “be still, and know that I am God.”
Handheld devices, such as smartphones, are a blessing, but they can also distract us from hearing the “still, small voice.” They need to be our servants, not our masters….
In addition to finding time to contemplate and meditate, we also need to find…a special place of refuge where we can wean ourselves from the distractions of our electronic devices by unplugging them so we can connect to the Spirit of God.“Be Still, and Know That I Am God,” CES Devotional Address, 4 May 2014
Today I will find time and space to “be still.” I will unplug from electronics and reach out to God. I will remember that He can help me overcome anxieties and concerns which might otherwise distract me and make me less effective in fulfilling my responsibilities.