August 11, 2008

“Peace, Be Still!â€?
By Pastor George Van Alstine

Psalm 107 is probably a “Pilgrim Psalm,â€? written to inspire those who were traveling to Jerusalem for one of the important religious festivals celebrated by ancient Israelites. They came from different places and by a variety of rigorous routes. Some crossed over vast deserts, where it was easy to lose their way, possibly suffering malnutrition and dehydration (verses 4–9). Others risked travel through enemy territory, where they might be arrested and imprisoned for no legitimate reason (verses 10-16). Others became sick because of the rigors of the journey and their own lack of physical conditioning (verses 17-22).

The fourth kind of danger pilgrims might face is the most picturesque:
“Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end.â€?  (verses 23-27)
What a graphic description of the storms we face in life and the emotional effect they have on us! We’ve all felt our courage melt. We know what it’s like to be at our wits end.

But, like the people in the psalm, we know where to turn for help:
“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.â€?  (verses 28-32)
Several words are used to show how thoroughly God deals with storms: “still,â€?  “hushed,â€?  “quiet,â€?  “haven.â€? He doesn’t just give out seasick pills; he actually stills the waves, in a deep and lasting way.

When I was a kid those words describing an absolutely calm and quiet state were not very attractive to me. Stuffy adults were always shushing me and making me feel guilty for any loud sounds I made. There was a lot of happy-noise inside of me that wanted to get out, and there was always somebody around saying “Shhh! Quiet!â€?

Now that I’ve lived through quite a few years of noise, those words sound a lot better. In fact, I’ll take as much calm, peace and stillness as I can get!

It’s good to know that the great Storm-Stiller is only a prayer away. He promises to answer the prayers of those who cry in their distress and “bring them to their desired havenâ€? (verse 30).