The refugees were fatigued, distressed, and now trapped so that they could not escape. An impassible mountain range surrounded them on one side, and impenetrable forts to the other. The Red Sea stretched in front, preventing their advance. The enemy closed in from behind, preventing their retreat. Millions of Israelites stood in shock, unable to understand what was happening: 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, distressed, and now trapped so that they could not escape. Towering mountain ranges surrounded them to the east, and hills to the west. A storm churned the Sea of Galilee; winds raged and waves crashed, preventing their advance. The aqueous abyss closed in, preventing their retreat. They stood in shock, unable to understand what was happening: Jesus had paraded them like celebrities out of the ambiguous crowd, chosen their vessel as his chariot, and now guided 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, distressed, and now trapped so that she could not escape. Insurmountable insecurity surrounded her on one side, and duty to the other. Status quo engulfed her, preventing advancement. Self-righteous pity closed in, preventing retreat. She stood in shock, unable to understand what was happening: the popular Rabbi had entered her home—at her invitation—and now ignored her, guiding her straight into a solitary grave. Fear drowned her soul in despair. She cried out to Jesus, “Don’t you care that I am dying?”
I get fatigued, distressed, and trapped so that I cannot 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. And ahead, the great unknown stretches clear to the horizon. I stand in shock, unable to understand what is happening: another disaster or diagnosis, another tragedy or trial, another unmet expectation. Fear drowns my soul in despair. I cry out to God, “Don’t you care that I am dying?”
“Siopao phimoo—Peace, be still,” he responds, just as he did to Israel, the disciples, and Martha (Ex 14.13, Mk 4.38, Lk 10.40).
The literal translation of siopao phimoo is “shut your mouth, hold your tongue, hush.” Unlike the "hush”of a frustrated parent shoving a pacifier into the mouth of their screaming toddler, God's response is not angry or exhausted. His “hush” is peaceful, shalom-ing, and steadfast. It's like the roar of Aslan that shut the mouth of the White Witch when she dared to doubt his veracity. His "hold your tongue" shifts our prayers from 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, helping us “be still and know that [he] is God” (Ps 46.10).
What enemy is trying to overtake you? What expanse stretches before you? Take courage, beloved, with 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 Lordwho 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 Lordwho commands armies is on our side! The God of Jacob is our protector! (Selah)