Be Still, My Soul, in this Pandemic

“Be still my soul”…easier said than done in this present time. 

Worrying has been a daily presence in my mind–the health of my loved ones, the jobs of my family and friends, my own job, my students, the future in general, being completely isolated if I get the virus. How am I supposed to keep everyone safe from something I cannot see?

My soul has not been still. I have been battling for a still soul.

And yet, I have had a hymn on repeat in my mind this week, reminding me over and over again: be still my soul, the Lord is on my side.

The stronghold I can have on the feeling of control in my life and the lives of those around me cannot be gripped when things fall apart. The words of this hymn are a reminder that when the things in this life seem completely out of control, there is one constant who is. 

In Mark 4, Jesus and His disciples are on a boat in the middle of the sea, and a terrible storm threatens to sink it. Jesus, asleep in the bottom of the boat, is woken by them, seeking His help. 

“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”

Mark 4:39

Jesus has the power to speak stillness and peace into areas of our lives that we have no control over. If He can calm raging winds and deadly storms, He can calm our hearts. I have been asking Him to calm mine.

The second verse of this song reads: “Be still, my soul; your God will undertake, To guide the future as he has the past. Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul; the waves and wind still know, His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.” The writer directly references that Bible passage. 

When I think of peace on earth right now, I imagine a vaccine that will keep us safe from harm. However, that peace is temporary. Sufferings in other forms, whether a virus or something else, will cause us to feel gripped by anxiety again. I want to be able to face trials and seasons of anxiety with an inner peace. There is a peace that can be found with Christ that is immeasurable and eternal. It lingers in our hearts as trials come. 

He promises a peace that is not of this world:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

And that peace can be obtained by praying to Him:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

As indicated by these verses, finding a “still soul” requires spending time with the Lord and praying for a peace to fill your heart, mind, and soul. By giving the battle in my mind and heart to Christ by praying to Him, I draw closer to Him, and allow His peace to remain in me when my present world is not peaceful. 
Earlier this week on the radio, I heard Joni Eareckson state that she “sang her way through suffering.”  I love that quote, and it is true for me. The hymns I write about help me through tough times because no matter where I am or what I am doing, I can have their encouraging tune in my mind, drawing me closer towards Christ through their words that reflect scripture, and helping my mind and heart to “be still.”

The words to the hymn are below:

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side;

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

Leave to your God to order and provide;

In every change he faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul; your best, your heavenly Friend

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; your God will undertake

To guide the future as he has the past.

Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;

All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still, my soul; the waves and wind still know

His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still, my soul; though dearest friends depart

And all is darkened in the vale of tears;

Then you will better know his love, his heart,

Who comes to soothe your sorrows and your fears.

Be still, my soul; your Jesus can repay

From his own fullness all he takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on

When we shall be forever with the Lord,

When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,

Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.

Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,

All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Enjoy this video of Jenny singing “Be Still My Soul” with Jackson Howard.

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