Introduction. God is our refuge and strength, an everpresent help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea Psalm46v1and2. Be still and know that I am God. v10.

I want to examine briefly some of those times we need to be still and know that God is in control.

(1) When we have made a mistake.

One of my last walks with my much loved Uncle David was along the river Otter in South Devon. It is everything a river should be - flowing rapidly over banks of shingle and undercutting red sandstone bluffs. We caught a glimpse of both a kingfisher and a dipper. When we got to Otter Mill we sat outside where we enjoyed a traditional Devon cream tea and watched the people come and go. After a while I noticed a small, pretty, blond haired girl walking behind her dad. Both carried trays piled high with empties they were returning to the cafe. Suddenly a cup and a glass slid off the young girl's tray and smashed on the concrete path. What was her reaction? She just stood perfectly still and waited. Her father looked back and then went on into the cafe. He was soon back with a brush and dustpan. He swept up the shattered debris. Still not a word was spoken. Finally the Father said, "Come on Hannah." Both returned to the cafe, later to re-emerge and walk off hand in hand.

Hannah trusted her father to sort out the mess. She wasn't frightened, distressed or embarrassed. She stood still and waited because she had every confidence in her father.

There are times we need to be like blond haired Hannah. Some years ago now I had a preaching engagement in Walthamstow, North London - thanks to my old friend, Stanley Knight. As I travelled down the M11 to my destination I made a mistake. I missed my exit and ended up in part of London with which I wasn't familiar. I pulled up in a highly distressed state. I began beating myself up. How could I have been so stupid to miss the exit. Why didn't I concentrate more. Things weren't improved by a couple of louts banging on the roof of my car. I fretted and fumed. I was never going to get to Walthamstow on time.

Eventually I was still! I sat quietly and had a little prayer. Then with my London A to Z and God's help I reached my destination safely.

When we make a foolish mistake we need to wait on God for his help in putting things right.

(2) When we have been wronged.

On the 19th of December 2016 there was an obituary of Helen Roseveare in the Daily Telegraph. She had been a medical missionary to the Congo from 1953 to 1973. In 1964 civil war broke out and Helen was arrested and imprisoned. One night some drunken soldiers entered her cell where they beat and raped her. She was left in the dark - bruised, alone and terrified. Helen thought that God had abandoned her. But as she lay in her cell - God came to her. She later testified: "God met with me with outstretched arms of love. It was an unbelievable experience. He was so utterly there, so totally understanding, his comfort was so deep - and suddenly I knew that his love was indescribably sufficient."

When we are wronged and our minds in turmoil, God says, "Be still and know that I am God."

Many years ago now I was unfairly treated by the new headmaster of the school in which I taught. He was only interested in the now and treated me with scant regard for what I had achieved in the past. I was furious, very resentful and revengeful. My mind was full of angry, bitter thoughts. I didn't like it! I asked God to take the thoughts away - but he didn't. Eventually I was still and I asked God what I should do. He said, "Obey my Son." So I told Jesus I had decided to obey him and turn the other cheek and go the extra mile. Then I was at peace.

(3) When tragedy strikes.

My brother Philip gave me the biography of Eric Liddell for Christmas. He was the 1924 400 metres Olympic Champion. He is better known for refusing to take part in his best event, the 100 metres, because the heats were run on a Sunday. This gave rise to the recent film, 'The Chariots of Fire.' After his Olympic success Eric Liddell went as a missionary to China. In the 1940s he was confined to a prisoner of war camp in China by the Japanese invaders.

It was there that he was taken ill with a brain tumour and was confined to the camp hospital. As he lay on his bed he loved to hear the Salvation Army play familiar hymn tunes. A few days before his death Eric made a request that they play, 'Be still my soul.' As the tune Finlandia was played Eric pondered the words he knew so well:

          Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side:
          Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
          Leave to the Lord to order and provide;
          In every change he faithful will remain.
          Be still my soul, thy best, thy heavenly, friend
          Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

I shall never forget the night my mother died. I heard my father call out in the night, "John, come quickly, John, come quickly." I found my mother sprawled over the bed - dead from a heart attack. First of all the doctor came - a lovely women who held my father's hand in sympathy. Then came the undertakers men to remove the body. It was 4am and mother had gone. Outside it was still dark. My father and I sat waiting for the dawn. I was still. I prayed a little. Then, I found a pencil and paper and began writing down all I needed to do on the coming day. God gave me strength for the task.

(4) When we have cause to fear the future.

Corrie ten Boom had cause to fear the future. She and her sister, Betsie, were in Ravensbruck concentration camp after being found guilty of harbouring Jews in Nazi occupied Holland. They had been betrayed by a neighbour in their home town of Haarlem.

Corrie lay beside her sister on a dirty mattress in a dark and restless room. As she lay quietly she wondered what she could say to comfort her sister. Then God reminded her of what her saintly father used to say when the future looked bleak: "Underneath are the everlasting arms."

"Betsie - are you asleep?" Corrie asked.

"No not yet," came the faint reply.

"Remember what Father told us: God is our dwelling; underneath are the everlasting arms."

Perhaps Betsie smiled in the darkness, "Oh yes, Corrie - and they will never leave us."

When the future seems bleak we need to remember that God is on our side. Many years ago now I took my father to see Dr Wilkerson. He hadn't been himself - sluggish and stooped. Nobody much else was in the doctor's waiting room. He saw me first, smiled and said, "What can I do for you." I replied, "I've brought my father to see you, doctor." My father stood up. Wilky took one look at him and his face fell. He knew what was wrong.

While Dr Wilkerson examined my father I sat quietly in the waiting room. Eventually my father came out and the doctor invited me into his consulting room. He said, "Your father has got Parkinson's disease." I responded, "We are Christians - God will help us through."

Wilky just said, "It's a hell of disease."

He was right - it was! I was right - God did help us through - just!

When the future looks bleak the best thing we can do is heed the words of the LORD: "Be still and know that I am God." A.D.Von Schlegel's put it like this in the last verse of her great hymn:

          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, loves purest joys restored.
          Be still my soul, when change and tears are past,
          All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Be still in the assurance of the Psalmist: God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea. Psalm46v1and2.