October 4, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Psalm 46:8-11 (NRSV)
Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
When the earth shakes, we can never put it back together just as it was before. We can never quite replace the moments we missed or the things we hoped for that didn’t pan out. God invites us to take any hopelessness or discouragement and be still.
In yesterday’s devotion, we talked about the changes of this past year and how for so many of us, it’s felt like the ground has shifted beneath our feet. We’ve felt subject to one, big constant string of changes that have been big and hard and messy. This is true both on a global level and in our personal, everyday lives. Today’s passage invites us to think about how we posture ourselves in the midst of these types of changes.
At the beginning of 2020, I had a number of projects and possibilities in my work that I was really excited about. I was looking forward to this year being one of professional growth and opportunity. But, like so many of us, my vision for what my year at work looked like changed abruptly. In the wake of Covid-19, a fragile economy, and shifting market needs, I found myself disoriented and discouraged. I had to let go of a lot of things I was excited about. I had to grieve opportunities that would never be. I had to trust the process, and believe that God was still in control even when things were playing out so differently than I had imagined.
We all have different impulses in the midst of change. Most of us intuitively resist change because of the loss that accompanies it. If I’m honest, my impulse is to double down and try harder. So, when things were changing, I worked extra hard. But I ran out of gas quick and realized that no new pivot or adaptation or even a new opportunity would adequately replace the kind of grief work that we all have to do when the stuff we hope for doesn’t work out.
I can’t help but think about our human need to grieve as I read this part of Psalm 46. I wonder if because God knows our natural impulses to resist change (earthquakes or otherwise), this is why we are invited to come and behold the works of the Lord and to be still and know that I am God. Right in the thick of chaos, we’re invited to turn our eyes away from our own hands and toward all that God is doing.
When the earth shakes, we can never put it back together just as it was before. We can never quite replace the moments we missed or the things we hoped for that didn’t pan out. God invites us to take any hopelessness or discouragement and be still. This is in light of the promise of yesterday’s devotion which was that God is present in times of trouble. If God is present in times of trouble, then we really can stop and be still, beholding the good work of the Lord.
Being still doesn’t exactly mean that we can stop working or loving or living. It just means that we posture ourselves in stillness, looking for quiet moments to turn our eyes away from the earth that’s shaking and toward a God who is working right in the midst of it. So, today, wherever you are, think about all that has happened this year. Consider what it means to be still and know that God is God in light of whatever is going on in your world.
Do you naturally give yourself space to grieve change?
Or do you have to be intentional about it?
Make space today to be still and know that God is God. If it helps, make a list of all the good works of the Lord that you’ve noticed in the last week!
God, we come to you in stillness—praying that you help us slow our hearts and minds enough to listen to you. Help us behold the good works you are already doing and help us to trust the process with you as our guide. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Amid the Sounds—Silence
Michaela O’Donnell is the Senior Director of the De Pree Center and an Adjunct Instructor of Practical Theology and Leadership at Fuller Seminary where she teaches classes on leadership and vocation.
Michaela’s first book is due out in 2021! It is about finding meaning in a changing world of work. She regularly writes and teaches on the topics of: vocation, changing world of work, innovative leadership, practical theology, and women in leadership.
Click here to view Michaela’s profile.