I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
For years, I've read that verse in multiple versions and have been told "Be still and know that I am God." Usually, as Christians, we use this verse to encourage ourselves to sit quietly and patiently, awaiting the voice of the Lord. While it is certainly true that we need to be quiet and stop the voice of our mind from crowding out the voice of God, I believe that the psalmist is going a step further in this verse.
The word "striving" makes me think of someone who is working hard to produce something, to try to accomplish something. As human beings, we are prone to take matters into our own hands, to envision a future and do our best to make it happen. But where does this striving get us?
In the verses leading up to this particular one, the Psalmist describes God's power in breaking the attempts of man. He says that God "makes wars to cease...breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two...burns the chariots with fire."
On a practical daily level we may not be personally waging war and conquering the earth, but we battle daily for the desires of our own hearts. We are so quick to fabricate our own version of the future, cutting our way through life and doing our best to ensure that we come out on top.
This has become a personal battle for me. I deal with the prideful issue of striving for perfectionism on a daily basis and find myself constantly calculating the best possible way for my day, week, month, or even year to turn out, and then attempt to manipulate it in to place. Thus far, all I have gained is a stack of failed plans, lost sleep over worrying and striving, and a humbling reminder to know that He is God.
The Psalmist, and God, asks that we remember who is in control. Instead of spending our time calculating, worrying, and planning, He asks us to throw aside our meager attempts of striving for our visions of the future, and instead trust that He is in control. This isn't to say we are to squelch ambition. Rather, our ambition should follow His plan, not our own striving.
We don't just cease our own striving because we hope He is in control. We are to know that He is God, Creator of the Universe, capable of orchestrating His perfect plan within our lives.