All block quotes are from “Stephen’s Martyrdom” by Charles Spurgeon
“To be calm amid the bewildering cry, to be confident of victory; to be still and know that God is God; to stand still with the children of Israel at the Red Sea, and see the salvation of God; this is hard, so hard that only the divine dove, the Comforter, can bring us from above the power to be so; but when once the art of being still is fully learned, what strength and bliss is in it!”
I don’t experience this at all times; I haven’t yet fully learned it. However, when I am able to be still and remember that God is God, it is… blissful. The only way I can think to explain this bliss is to imagine being in a bubble, a creature floating among the creation, protected from complete destruction by my salvation soap. As I move through my day, I am aware of my own fleshly desires, the temptations from the world around me, and my resulting sins, but the purity of the soap continually washes away my sin. This purifying effect reminds me of my standing with God, forgiven and possessing the promise of an eternal home that will be free from all sin.
Study of the Biblical example of Stephen is helpful to me in order to understand more fully what it is like to “be still.” Stephen’s face was “…like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15) just before he addressed the High Priest and his Council, giving a strong defense of the gospel based on the Old Testament. During his stoning, Stephen was “full of the Holy Spirit” as he “gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). Stephen was able to be still in the midst of the chaos that surrounded him, because the Holy Spirit comforted him and encouraged him to steadfastly focus on God.
Behold the man of shining countenance steadfastly looking up, as though he tracked the road through which his soul would soon wing its way; as though he saw the angelic bands ascending and descending to minister to him; as though he held perpetual and abiding fellowship with the great Father of Spirits, and was not to be disturbed or distracted by the rage of men.
I notice that Stephen was not “still” in the sense that he sat back and did absolutely nothing; instead, he proclaimed God’s message despite the detractors that swarmed him. He remained calm even though the message inflamed the anger of his listeners. In this sense, he was still; he trusted that God would work the situation in accordance with His will. God was at work in him, “both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
Stephen continued to be still when he was led to his stoning ground. He did not resist, but instead entrusted his spirit to Jesus as he looked to his Savior who was “standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). This strong confidence in the finished work of Christ comforted Stephen as he calmly “fell asleep” after praying for his persecutors (Acts 7:60). He died unafraid… calm… composed… still.
Can I do as Stephen did? Can I trust that God’s sovereign will is going to be His sovereign will regardless of my inability to understand all of His ways? Can I trust that His will is really what is good and true and pure and right? Can I be still as Stephen was in the midst of persecution and impending death?
Considering the daily implications of my life as it currently stands… Can I trust that my trials are inside of God’s will and control, and that He ultimately knows the best way to work good? Can I peacefully and patiently do this regardless of whether my circumstances ever change this side of heaven or not? With the help of the Holy Spirit reminding me Who has purchased me, I can. I can be still and know that He will help me to accomplish whatever it is that He wants me to do. I can be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.