The refugees were fatigued and distressed. Now trapped, they could not escape. Impassible mountains surrounded them on one side and impenetrable forts on the other. In front stretched the Red Sea, preventing their advance. Closely behind marched the enemy, preventing their retreat. There stood millions of Israelites in shock, unable to understand why God had paraded them like royalty out of Egypt and now guided them straight into a watery grave. Fear drowned their souls in despair. Many cried out to God, “Don’t you care that we are dying?”
The disciples were fatigued and distressed. Now trapped, they could not escape. Towering mountains surrounded them to the east and hills to the west. A fierce storm churned the Sea of Galilee, preventing their advance. The aqueous abyss closed in, preventing their retreat. There they sat like sitting ducks, unable to understand why Jesus had paraded them like celebrities out of ambiguity, chosen their vessel as his chariot, and now led them straight into a watery grave. Fear drowned their souls in despair. They cried out to the Rabbi, “Don’t you care that we are dying?”
Martha was fatigued and distressed. Now trapped, she could not escape. Anxiety mounted on one side and duty on the other. Status quo engulfed her, preventing advancement. Hunger for the words of Life closed in, preventing retreat. She stood in shock, unable to understand why the Messiah had entered her home—at her invitation—ignored her request, and now led her straight into a social grave. Fear drowned her soul in despair. She cried out to Jesus, “Don’t you care that I am dying?”
I get fatigued and distressed. Feel trapped and deny the possibility of escape. Rocky crags of rejection and past failures surround me on all sides. Enemies like status quo, antagonism, and pride lunge at me from behind. Ahead stretches the great unknown stretches to the horizon. I stand in shock, unable to understand why God allowed another disaster, diagnosis, disappointment, tragedy, trial, unmet expectation. Fear drowns my soul in despair. I cry out to God, “Don’t you care that I am dying?”
“Peace, be still,” he responds to Israel, the disciples, Martha, and to me (Ex 14.13, Mk 4.38, Lk 10.40).
The literal translation of siopao phimoo is “shut your mouth, hold your tongue, hush.” But it’s not the “hush” of a frustrated parent to their screaming toddler. God’s response is not angry or exhausted; rather, it’s shalom-ing, and steadfast. It’s like the roar of Aslan that shut the mouth of the White Witch who dared to doubt his veracity. His “hold your tongue” shifts our questionings of his character (“Don’t you care?”) to humble pleas like “I believe but help me overcome this unbelief!” (Mk 9.24). The words siopao phimoo minister to our fatigued, distressed, and snared souls, ultimately enabling us to “be still and know that [he] is God” (Ps 46.10).
Take a moment to commune with God. Prayerfully consider the following questions:
What mountains surround you?
What waves crush you?
What anxieties harass you?
When ready, confess these words from Psalm 46:
“God is our strong refuge; he is truly our helper in times of trouble. For this reason, we do not fear when the earth shakes, and the mountains tumble into the depths of the sea, when its waves crash and foam, and the mountains shake before the surging sea. (Selah)
“The river’s channels bring joy to the city of God, the special, holy dwelling place of the sovereign One. God lives within it, it cannot be moved. God rescues it at the break of dawn. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms are overthrown. God gives a shout, the earth dissolves. The Lord who commands armies is on our side! The God of Jacob is our protector! (Selah)
Come! Witness the exploits of the Lord, who brings devastation to the earth! He brings an end to wars throughout the earth; he shatters the bow and breaks the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, ‘Stop your striving and recognize that I am God! I will be exalted over the nations! I will be exalted over the earth!’ The Lord who commands armies is on our side! The God of Jacob is our protector! (Selah)