A few years back, my pastor preached a sermon called "The Son Stood Still," about how the sun stood still during Joshua’s day (Joshua 10:12-14). During the sermon, he went on to explain how there were times The Lord also stood still when God’s grace was in effect – as He’d done with the woman who believed she would be healed by merely touching the hem of His garment (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-30), and with the two blind men who begged for His mercy in spite of others telling them to keep quiet (Matthew 20:30-34).
This type of standing still isn’t just about literally standing still. You can stand still and get hit by a train if you don’t get off the tracks, so it’s more than only that. Standing still, in this sense, is in reverence to the moving of God’s grace; it’s about standing still in faith and hope and trust in The Lord Himself. As He’d done throughout His earthly ministry, He lived His life as an example for others. To stand still is one of those many valuable lessons He left behind for each one of us to learn and to grow by.
"…therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD of all the righteous acts of the LORD, which he did to you and to your fathers." (1 Samuel 12:7)
Stand Still and Consider
We all have burdens and trials we have to go through in our lives. It can be as trying as watching a loved one suffer from an illness, or as seemingly minor as being hurt by a careless word that was said. Regardless of how big or how small whatever the burden may have been (or may still be), when we’re the one going through it, it doesn’t matter if someone else went through the same thing and turned out perfectly fine. What we want to know is how we are going to get through it.
Well, the truth is, if someone like Job couldn’t do it, we probably shouldn’t get our hopes up about working through our own struggles alone, either.
Job was a man who was said to be "perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil." Many are familiar with his story of how he’d lost all, then was later blessed with more than he’d had in the beginning. For the most part, it’s doubtful that any of us would have to face the kinds of trials Job did, but when self-pity eventually kicked in, and he spent more time complaining and debating with his friends than he did in sincere prayer to God, one friend, who had refrained from the debates out of respect to those who were older than him, finally spoke up in chapter 32 and continued on through chapter 37.
Elihu, this younger friend of Job’s, said to him in verse 14 of chapter 37, "Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God." In his exposition of this verse, John Gill had written that to stand still means to "stand up, in order to hear better, and in reverence of what might be said; and with silence, that it might be the better received and understood." As it turned out, to stand still in this way – to listen in reverence and with silence – was to be one of the main lessons Job would have to learn before God would release him from the horror that had become his life.
It’s also one of the main lessons we have to learn in our own lives. Complaining, debating, worrying or whining over things never accomplishes anything. It isn’t until we learn to stand still in faith, and to truly consider all that The Lord has done for us and for others, that we begin to witness the very real power that is God. Our problems may not go away, it may not be time for that yet, but when we take a moment to consider God, even in the smallest of things, He is faithful to help us every step of the way.
Stand Still and Wait
"And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him." (Isaiah 30:18)
In considering God and His sovereignty over all, we should always keep in mind that just as His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8), our time is not His time. It goes without saying that we want things when we want them, and not a day or hour later, but God is not bound by time. Time is bound by God.
It’s hard not to notice how quickly things are changing around us today. Just thinking about how fast electronics are released and replaced is enough to make a person’s head spin. If you buy a new computer, you can pretty much rest assured, it has depreciated even before the sales person has time to say, "That’ll be four car payments, one semi-partial mortgage loan, and a 93.95% maxed out credit card…plus tax." It’s everywhere we look – on television, in magazines, on billboards – it’s all about fast-paced people living in a fast-paced world. And we, as Christians, would be kidding ourselves if we were to think we aren’t part of the problem. When we’re not careful, we can get just as caught up in fast-paced living as the next person.
Too often we do the same thing with our prayers. If God doesn’t answer when and how we think He should, we either assume we have to do something ourselves to make it happen (sort of like trying to answer our own prayers), or we assume whatever it is simply isn’t meant to be. Granted, learning to accept and embrace God’s will as it stands, no matter what, is a major part of a child of God’s life. However, so is waiting.
In Habakkuk 2:3, in reference to a vision the prophet had seen, the LORD said to Habakkuk, "…the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."
Although discussing visions isn’t the topic here, I thought what Charles Spurgeon had written in his notes concerning this verse applicable. "It is not every apparent delay which is real. Our time and God’s time are not measured upon the same dial." He went on to say, "The word of The Lord is as true to the time as to the thing. To Him, its time of ripening is short; only to us is it long."
So much more could be said on this subject – there’s Abraham and Sarah, Hannah, King David, all of the apostles and countless others who have each had their time of waiting. But the main point is that by standing still and waiting for God, rather than trying to take matters into our own hands, this is when we learn what true faith is all about. As the Apostle Paul had written in Romans 8:25, "But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."
"Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." (Psalms 27:14)
Stand Still and See
"Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah." (Psalms 4:4)
Do stand still and consider all of The Lord’s wondrous works. Do stand still and wait for Him. For when these things are done, in true and sincere faith in God, the time is certain to come when we are blessed with the moment to stand still and see. One story that displays the results of standing still and seeing God’s providence in action is an old one. It had to do with worrying Christians, a fierce enemy, a fine leader, and waters that stood up in the very presence of the Lord God.
When Moses led God’s people out of Egypt, they were instructed to stand still and see, as Moses said to them, in Exodus 14:13-14, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."
It’s interesting to note that they weren’t told to build a boat to cross the sea that would stretch before them. Nor were they told to find a really long rope and hang it on a nearby tree, then try to swing over the endless miles of water. They weren’t told to do anything, in fact, but to stand still and see the salvation of The Lord. He would do the fighting for them, and they would be silent.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1, the Preacher, King Solomon, writes, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." There are times when, by God’s leading, we must speak, we must do something. But there are also times, as this story shows, when we can do nothing except to stand still and trust that God will work out the details – for if He isn’t the one leading us to do a thing, we’re only setting ourselves up for a big mess ahead. And that big mess often hurts.
It’s impossible for us (not for God) to know the burden of every person who might read this, but I have learned that there is nothing too big or too small for The Lord, as He said in Jeremiah 32:27, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?" There’s only one response to give when a person has prayed to Him, but feels He still hasn’t answered. Pray again. Keep praying until God does answer. And He will – in His own way and in His own time.
"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all – to stand." (Ephesians 6:13; emphasis added)