Be Still

By Not Known

We are into the season of Lent now which started the previous Wednesday.  I have found it helpful for us to think about Lent and why we should take some time to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).

The season of Lent has been a part of the church’s spiritual life, but for many it is still largely unfamiliar. Lent leads up to Easter, a time when Christians have historically prepared their hearts for Easter with reflection, repentance, and prayer.  It begins with Ash Wednesday and goes on for forty days, excluding Sundays, culminating with Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  Since Sundays are weekly celebrations of the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays in Lent are not counted as part of the forty-day season, which focuses on introspection, self-examination, and repentance.  Many Christians choose to fast throughout the season of Lent, but the focus is not on depriving themselves of something as much as it is on devoting themselves to God and his purposes in the world. 

Lent is an important season of the church year.  The church year is an excellent way to help focus our attention on God with the way we organize our time.  Rather than following the solar calendar’s more familiar structure, organized by the rhythms of nature, the church calendar is organized around God and his activity in the world.

The church calendar follows six major seasons of varying length: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Each of these seasons have different focuses: Advent focuses on the anticipation of God’s coming into the world, in Christ incarnation and in return.  Christmas focuses on the birth of Christ. Epiphany focuses on the light of God’s presence shining in the world.  Lent focuses on human sin and God’s gracious solution.  Easter focuses on the resurrection life.  Pentecost focuses on the ongoing activity of the Holy Spirit in the world.  The annual rhythm of these seasons can have a powerful effect on personal and communal spiritual growth.

In our daily routines and chores, sometimes there are breaks of joys but mostly there are disruptions of unwanted and to-be-avoided-at-all-costs problems.  It is easy for us in these moments to keep God at arm’s length and shut him out unwittingly as we become so preoccupied with our predicament.  There seems to be little room for us even to be positive, let alone to “trouble” ourselves in troubling God in our situations.  Ironically, when God tells us that he is the sheltering power in our storms of life (Psalm 46:1), he is telling us that he knows about the storms and he is not absent from it.  In fact, he is the sheltering power to provide us with opportunities to trust in his sovereignty.

The advice is for us to “be still and know that he is God.”  It is not asking God to deal with our problems.  It is trusting him to deal with us first in the act of knowing who is God.  The key is to learn to “be still.”

So here we are in the season of Lent.  A season of learning how to “be still,” and know that he is God and we are not. 


Peter Poon