How To Be Calm In Difficulty

“1 O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.”
– Psalm 131 ESV


While training to be certified as a lifeguard, I was taught that when approaching a victim, I must approach from behind and put them in a secure hold to prevent them from grabbing onto me in a state of panic and thus drowning both of us. Before the victim could be rescued they had to be convinced that I was there to help them. Once convinced, they had to calm themselves enough to allow me to take them to safety.

The same principle is true when we’re faced with situations in life that cause us to feel as if we are drowning. Circumstances are out of our control and we feel helpless to correct them. It is at this moment that we have to realize there is someone there to help us to safety … if we will calm ourselves enough to allow them to. That someone is the Lord!

Psalm 131 teaches us how to “Calm Ourselves” during these times so God can help us to safety. Here they are …

1. Don’t focus on the why! – Psalm 131:1

When difficulty invades our life we have a tendency to focus on why it happened and then assign blame. Often we blame ourselves. If we have done something wrong, quite often, consequences will follow. However, God uses even our mistakes to accomplish His purpose. Sometimes difficult situations in life are just part of God’s plan. God is working in us for his glory and our good and often it takes difficulty to accomplish that.

In Psalm 131:1 David confesses to the Lord that he is not so proud as to think he could figure it all out or that he is powerful enough to control the situation. He also proclaims that he does not occupy his time focusing on things too great or too marvelous for him. Basically David says he does not waste his time trying to figure out why God does what he does. He is God and we are not.

The Bible does not promise we will understand or know why things happen. If God wants us to know why these things are happening in our life, He will reveal it to us. Otherwise, we should not waste our time trying to understand everything God is doing. God is in control and He knows the why. God’s ways are much higher (different) than our ways. God does not do things like we do them. God says the following in Isaiah …

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9 ESV

We may never know why God allows things to happen but we must remember that God has a reason and it is for our good.

”And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  – Romans 8:28 ESV

2. Don’t forget who is in control! – Psalm 131:2

The Psalmist begins verse two with a contrast. Verse two begins with the word, BUT … Rather than focusing his energy on trying to understand WHY, the Psalmist exercises character by calming himself and quieting his emotions. God reminds us in Psalm 46:

Be still and know that I am God …”  – Psalm 46:10a KJV

The word “still” means to be calm, relax, to not give effort. Basically God tells us to relax and let Him do His work in our lives. Stop trying to figure it out and fix it. Our responsibility is to trust God and just do right:

”Trust in the LORD, and do good;” – Psalm 37:3a

While our life may seem to be in disarray, God reminds us that he has everything under control.

The Psalmist uses the picture of a child who has been weaned from his mother. This indicates a level of maturity and contentment. The longer we walk with the Lord and the more we see him work in our lives the stronger our faith becomes. These difficult situations are opportunities for our faith to grow.

3. Don’t forsake God! – Psalm 131:3

As human beings we have a tendency to try and “FIX” things ourselves rather than letting God do it. We tend to put our hope in our own ability, substance abuse or other people. The psalmist encouraged Israel to put their hope in the Lord. He had seen work in the past. When just a boy God saved him from the Lion, the Bear and the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17:34-37). He knew what God could do. During that time the armies of Israel hoped in their own ability or the ability of King Saul but David hoped in the Lord and was victorious.

Here are 4 reasons to hope in the Lord:

1. He is in control of everything

”who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” – Philippians 3:21 NIV

2. He loves us no matter what we have done or will do

”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Romans 8:35-39 ESV

3. He is working His plan in each of our individual lives

“for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13 ESV

4. His plan is for our good

”And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 ESV

”Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 ESV

So when life becomes difficult and we feel as if we are drowning, know that God is there to carry us to safety and get us through it if we will simply calm ourselves and allow His plan to work itself out in our life. Trust Him, He Loves Us and He knows what He is doing!