“Cease striving and know that I am God…”
Here we have recorded in capsule form the secret to successfully dealing with the issues of life. The advice which the Psalmist gives in this verse however, runs contrary to our human nature. It is our human nature to instinctively strive whenever we encounter difficulties in life.
It is our human nature to wrestle and struggle and calculate and contrive to whatever extent we feel necessary to handle life’s difficulties. Such fruitless activity often leaves us feeling frustrated and robs us of the opportunity to see how God can deal with the same issue.
The expression “cease striving” means in the Hebrew to “let your hands drop” or to “let go” or “relax.” God will not put His hands on a difficulty until we take our hands off. It is only when we take our hands off that He can begin to work in such a way that we come to understand afresh and anew that He is indeed God.
There are four things we must do in order to live the truth of this verse.
First, whenever we encounter a difficulty we must release it into the care of the Lord. Psalm 37:5a states, “Commit your way to the Lord.” Psalm 55:22 declares, “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” We read in I Peter 5:7, “[cast] all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” Whenever we encounter a difficulty we should first take the matter to the Lord and entrust it into His care.
Second, we must rely upon the Lord. Psalm 37:5 declares that we must first “commit” and then, “Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” Proverbs 3:5 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding.” Whenever we encounter difficulties in life the temptation to strive and to lean on our own understanding is great. We must act opposite of our own human nature however, and release the matter into the hands of the Lord and then rely upon Him to guide us in the resolution of the matter. Such a resolution may require activity on our part or a great deal of patience. We must be prepared for both.
Third, we must relax. This is not a reference to inactivity or unconcern. It is rather, a reference to waiting upon the Lord to work things out in His time. Psalm 27:14 declares, “Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” This is difficult for us to do in our instamatic society. We do not like waiting. We abhor lines at the traffic light, at the grocery store, and at the amusement park. Our modern society is geared to taking the wait out of life. Everything is becoming faster by virtue of automation and self-service and great technological advances. But in our spiritual lives waiting is important. We cannot hurry-up waiting! Waiting is a key ingredient in the development of character and spiritual maturity. And so, once we have released a matter into the hands of the Lord we must rely upon Him to work matters out in His time, which requires us to relax.
Fourth, we will receive God’s provision. God’s provision or solution to the matter will come in due time. If we will release (commit), rely (trust), and relax (wait), we will receive God’s provision. Upon receiving God’s provision or solution to the matter we released into His care, we should be reminded that He is God. It is when we receive God’s provision that we begin to grow in our understanding of who God is and how faithful God is. We experience growth in our understanding of God when we commit our difficulties and impossibilities into His care and trust Him to deal faithfully with them. There is absolutely no situation that we can release into His care that can baffle Him. God knows exactly what to do with every conceivable issue of life. Thus the secret to successfully dealing with the issues of life is to release (commit), rely (trust), relax (wait), and receive, and then to continue in this cycle as a matter of life.