In the face of world-wide quarantine, Pastor César Forero outlines God’s call to stillness to believers. We hope you will be encouraged by our second devotional in this series of weekly articles over the next few weeks. For more on Pastor César, the situation in Panama, and what inspired his devotional, click on the image below to view his short (1min.) video message. Read his timely article further below:
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
When the virus was first detected in Hubei Province, China, in early December 2019, none of its residents thought that shortly after a month, the entire city would be quarantined. We all witnessed the terrible images of the Wuhan hospitals full of sick people, the health personnel collapsed from stress and fatigue and—above all—the emptiness and apocalyptic silence of its streets and avenues as a result of the quarantine. What we perhaps never wanted to imagine was the fact that those same scenes would be repeated in many major cities around the world.
I recently saw images of these cities, including mine, that look almost surreal due to the emptiness that the quarantines have caused.
These bustling cities have no stillness. Business activity in these cities could not afford to stop, because if it did, millions of dollars would be lost. That is exactly what has happened. The world went from pursuing money, power and pleasure to a so-called calm, but the question in this time of enforced quarantine is this: Who does not stop, the cities or their inhabitants? Of course it is their inhabitants who did not stop. Being in quarantine is not necessarily synonymous with being still. Despite the fact that many remain at home, they are not quiet, as their thoughts are equally or more agitated than they were before the crisis, due to fears and anxieties.
The Bible tells us: “Be still and know that I am God”. Stillness is defined as: “quietness, rest or absence of agitation and noise, lack of movement, tranquility, peace.*” God is longing for us to spend time in His presence every day. He wants us to come to a complete stop. Yes—a complete stop! I am sure that David could only say, “…because you have been my refuge and strong tower before the enemy” (Psalm 61:3) because it was time for him to stand still and know God in the midst of the persecution against him. I have no doubt that it was that same stillness that led Elisha to tell his servant in 2 Kings 6:16, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them”.
Stillness in God’s presence allowed the prophet to be aware of the spiritual world operating on his behalf, showing that he knew the Lord’s will. Thinking of our Lord Jesus Christ, I can see not once, but many times that he sought to be alone with the Father. Just before going into the most difficult moment of his life, Jesus spent several hours of quiet prayer. There cannot be a better example than him. However, there are believers who find it very difficult to be still—to spend time alone with God and simply to be silent before His Almighty Power. The Scripture says in Isaiah 57:20 “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest…”.
It is not the mega cities that “never sleep” that are called by God to be still; it is you and me—His children, who are washed and redeemed by the Blood of Jesus. The great difference between the quarantine and the stillness into which God calls us lies in the fact that in God there is true peace even in the midst of the storm, and that we can know Him and witness His mighty acts among the nations. God’s invitation to be still is really a call to know Him. It is a call to grow in faith; a call to contemplate Him in all of His power and glory. The more time, Christians can spend daily with God, contemplating Him in His Word and in prayer, in silence, in solitude, in quietness—the greater our impact will be in the midst of the cities’ recovery after the quarantine is lifted.
In conclusion: Psalm 46:11 says, “The LORD of hosts is with us,” you will never know who is with you unless you stand still. God wants us to understand that He has determined to be with us always—“all the days until the end” Matthew 28:20. The Bible says in Isaiah 30:15, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
These trials are giving us the opportunity to stop and listen to the Good Shepherd. I would like to encourage you to do one of the following:
AUTHOR Cesar Forero J. serves as Spanish language resource curator for GProLearning.org, a website dedicated to making pastoral training resources accessible to leaders with limited formal theological education. He has more than 10 years of ministry experience as marriage counselor and Co-Pastor of the Family Restoration Center in the suburbs of Panama. Pastor César is a 2015 Dallas GPA graduate and has a leadership coaching certification with Life Forming Institute and a Bachelor’s Degree in Frontier Mission with University of the Nations and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with the University Latinoamericana.
He directs Infusion Ministries for Latin America, training pastors and leaders on the topic of Identity and Freedom in Christ. Pastor César has been married to his lovely wife Lynette since 2001 and they have two children: Grace Nicolle and Caleb David.