On the first day that Moses led the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, hard-hearted Pharaoh and his chariots pursued them all the way to the shore of the Red Sea. Caught between drowning and destruction, the people were understandably terrified. They cried out in fear, “But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again’” (Exodus 14:13 NLT).
Saint Paul wrote about some of the things he suffered as a minister of Christ in his second letter to the church at Corinth: five times he was beaten with the lash and three times with rods. He was shipwrecked and lost at sea. He faced ongoing threats from robbers, unbelievers, and even his own countrymen. He was persecuted, mocked, exhausted, in constant pain, hungry, cold, and naked. He spent much of his ministry in prison and was constantly burdened by the care of all the churches he had planted from Athens to Asia (2 Corinthians 11:16-33).
When he pleaded with God to relieve him of this constant torment, the Lord answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). About which Paul proclaimed, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me” (v. 9).
The book of Galatians instructs us to be strong in the Lord and his might, and when we have done all we can to stand, clothed in the full armor of God, praying in the Spirit for all the saints, and watching with all perseverance to see the power of the Lord in action (Galatians 6:10-20).
Again, and again the Word of God instructs us to stand still, keep calm, and witness what God will do, when we are faced with what certainly appear to be insurmountable obstacles. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul said we should be strong – not in our own might, but in God’s – and to the church at Corinth, he was glad to boast in his own weakness, so the power of God could work through him. When they were trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea, Moses commanded the children of Israel, “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” (Exodus 14:14 NLT).
The next time you find yourself in a situation that is so big, so frightening, so unexpected that you feel that there can be no way out; the next time you feel, like Paul, that the whole world seems to be working against the call God has placed on you; when you feel like you just can’t face another day that brings another battle, and you feel like you’re ‘caught between the devil and the deep blue sea’ – let not your hearts be troubled! Stand still, keep calm, and see the salvation of the Lord in action! Every time we come up against a circumstance that unavoidably demonstrates our own helplessness and weakness, we have at the same time come upon an opportunity to stand still and stay out of God’s way so that he can demonstrate his almighty power.
As Paul, who was once a very influential Pharisee (before he was knocked off his high horse on the road to Damascus in Acts chapter 9), came to understand, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). But Paul never became strong in himself. The strength that he received came from God, because our strength can never be sufficient to meet the forces that are arrayed against us. So, no wonder we often feel helpless! When it is time to meet a challenge, we must embrace our own weaknesses as blessings and have confidence in the power of God and his Christ to see us through the storm.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but as King David wrote in Psalm 103:1-5, in times of trouble our response should be:
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
Be still, stay calm, and let God fight for you. As the prophet said to the children of Israel, “…Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's’” (2 Chronicles 20:15).
All scriptures are from the English Standard Version translation, unless otherwise noted.