What it means to cease striving

Whether you are a believer or not, you might have heard the verse from the Book of Psalms (in the Bible) that goes like this:

Cease striving and know that I am God – Ps 46:10a

Most translations say “Be still and know that I am God.”

I quote this to myself on occasion because it sounds and feels peaceful.

This morning I read the verse. The effect was different. I felt on edge after I read the verse.

It’s easy to know what to do when you read clear instructions:

Go to the store and buy me some M&Ms. – The Wife

Edit this Excel spreadsheet and get it back out to the client for updated information – The Boss

Eat a salad. – Me to Myself

But ‘Be still’?  ‘Cease striving’?

Being told to stop all the things leaves a vacuum. It leaves you sitting there eyes darting to and fro wondering how you could sit there being so useless.

Seeing as how these few simple words are in the Bible, they must have a purpose besides making us sit on our hands and stare at a rock garden or some other such thing.

What ‘Cease Striving’ Does NOT Mean

It does not mean that you should be lazy and do no work.

It does not mean that we should cease making plans and having goals.

It does not mean we should work at half capacity.

‘Work’ is probably not even the context for this verse, although it is, most definitely, a valid application for some of what I think the good King David is getting at.

Work is important and work is commanded throughout Scripture.

It also does not mean to forgo things like goal-setting and being intentional about important relationships and responsibilities in your life. You can still have a plan and execute that plan.

What I Believe ‘Cease Striving’ Means

When I read this short verse out of the Psalms, I feel reprimanded for one main thing: “Stop trying to manufacture the outcomes in your own life and in the life of others.”

It’s a verse about giving up control.

We can’t control the way most people think about us.  We can’t control whether or not the economy will take a turn that affects our industry and career.

We can’t control what some kid will say to our kid at the playground during recess – or how our kid will respond to that kid.  We can’t parent, but we can’t be there every moment and manage the situation.

We can’t control a lot of things that we try, everyday, to control.

Which is why God tells us to cease striving.  That’s the perfect description of what we do when we try to control every outcome, every thought someone has of us, every thing that happens to someone we love.

It’s futile. It’s draining. And it’s not our job.

Know that I am God

We will never be able to put “God” on our resumes.

Therefore, we shouldn’t try to assume God’s duties.

Our job is to be still, to cease striving, and hand over the results, outcomes, etc. to our Father in heaven.

Recently I heard a preacher (Andy Stanley) quote another preacher (Charles Stanley): “God takes full responsibility for the life wholly devoted to Him.” (paraphrased, I’m sure).

The point is that our job is to walk as best as we can in a certain way.  Kind, forgiving, truth-speaking, considering others, generous, patient, joyful, selfless.

Our job is not to make others respond well to us if we act these ways toward them and they do not reciprocate.  Also, our job isn’t to make others respond in a forgiving way to us if we fail to do these things.

We pursue God or a life of character (if you’re not a believer) and allow God to handle the outcomes.

This isn’t always easy.  There are often so many variables in our relationships. And we fail more times than we care to consider in our pursuit of living a life devoted to God.

Still. Be still. Cease striving.

He’s God. You’re not.

Pursue Him. Let Him do in your life and in the lives of those around you what only He can do.


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  1. Exactly what I’ve been doing and am coming out of. I should have read this when it was written. Lol. Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. i have to come back around and read it every once in a while myself. Thanks for your comment! (and obviously, I’m not on top of this thing quite like I used to be!).

  2. Very good articke– I took notes but I think you missed it at the very end when you qualified “pursuing God” to “iving a life of character” for unbelievers. There is no such thing.

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