Simon Dewey  Peace, Be Still

Simon Dewey Peace, Be Still

Question: Does Jesus Christ have the power to bring peace in the midst of life’s storms?

Answer: We have all felt, at one time or another, the way Jesus’s disciples did in the storm at sea–watching the waves of water fill the boat and questioning, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”

35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them (the disciples), Let us pass over unto the other side (of the Sea of Galilee).

36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish (don’t you care if we drown)?

39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind (commanded the wind to stop), and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? (Mark 4:35-41)

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Elder Howard W. Hunter has taught:

All of us have seen some sudden storms in our lives. A few of them, though temporary like these on the Sea of Galilee, can be violent and frightening and potentially destructive. As individuals, as families, as communities, as nations, even as a church, we have had sudden squalls arise which have made us ask one way or another, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” And one way or another we always hear in the stillness after the storm, “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”

None of us would like to think we have no faith, but I suppose the Lord’s gentle rebuke here is largely deserved. This great Jehovah, in whom we say we trust and whose name we have taken upon us, is he who said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” (Gen. 1:6.) And he is also the one who said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.” (Gen. 1:9.)

Furthermore, it was he who parted the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to pass through on dry ground. (See Ex. 14:21–22.) Certainly it should be no surprise that he could command a few elements acting up on the Sea of Galilee. And our faith should remind us that he can calm the troubled waters of our lives.,,

But Jesus was not spared grief and pain and anguish and buffeting. No tongue can speak the unutterable burden he carried, nor have we the wisdom to understand the prophet Isaiah’s description of him as “a man of sorrows.” (Isa. 53:3.) His ship was tossed most of his life, and, at least to mortal eyes, it crashed fatally on the rocky coast of Calvary. We are asked not to look on life with mortal eyes; with spiritual vision we know something quite different was happening upon the cross.

Peace was on the lips and in the heart of the Savior no matter how fiercely the tempest was raging. May it so be with us—in our own hearts, in our own homes, in our nations of the world, and even in the buffetings faced from time to time by the Church. We should not expect to get through life individually or collectively without some opposition. (Howard W. Hunter, General Conference, October 1984, “Master, the Tempest is Raging”)

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President Thomas S. Monson has taught:

His words in holy writ are sufficient: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).

We had a chorister who taught us boys how to sing. We had to sing. Sister Stella Waters would wave the baton within inches of our noses and beat time with a heavy foot that made the floor creak. If we responded properly, Sister Waters let us choose a favorite hymn to sing. Inevitably, the selection was:

Master, the tempest is raging!

The billows are tossing high!

The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness.

No shelter or help is nigh.

Carest thou not that we perish?

How canst thou lie asleep

When each moment so madly is threat’ning

A grave in the angry deep?

And then the assuring chorus:

The winds and the waves shall obey thy will:

Peace, be still, peace, be still.

Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea

Or demons or men or whatever it be,

No waters can swallow the ship where lies

The Master of ocean and earth and skies.

They all shall sweetly obey thy will:

Peace, be still; peace, be still.

They all shall sweetly obey thy will:

Peace, peace, be still.

As a boy, I could fathom somewhat the danger of a storm-tossed sea. However, I had but little understanding of other demons which can stalk our lives, destroy our dreams, smother our joys, and detour our journey toward the celestial kingdom of God.

A list of destructive demons is lengthy; and each man, young or old, knows the ones with which he must contend. I’ll name but a few: the Demon of Greed; the Demon of Dishonesty; the Demon of Debt; the Demon of Doubt; the Demon of Drugs; and those twin Demons of Immodesty and Immorality. Each of these demons can wreak havoc with our lives. A combination of them can spell utter destruction.

Concerning greed, the counsel from Ecclesiastes speaks caution: “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase.” Jesus counseled, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”We must learn to separate need from greed.

When we speak of the demon of dishonesty, we can find it in a variety of locations. One such place is in school. Let us avoid cheating, falsifying, taking advantage of others, or anything like unto it. Let integrity be our standard.

In decision making, ask not “What will others think?” but rather “What will I think of myself?”

Enticements to embrace the demon of debt are thrust upon us many times each day. I quote the counsel from President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“I am troubled by the huge consumer installment debt which hangs over the people of the nation, including our own people. …

“We are beguiled by seductive advertising. Television carries the enticing invitation to borrow up to 125 percent of the value of one’s home. But no mention is made of interest. …

“I recognize that it may be necessary to borrow to get a home, of course. But let us buy a home that we can afford and thus ease the payments which will constantly hang over our heads without mercy or respite for as long as 30 years.” I would add: We must not allow our yearnings to exceed our earnings.

In discussing the demon of drugs, I include, of course, alcohol. Drugs impair our ability to think, to reason, and to make prudent and wise choices. Often they result in violence, child and wife abuse, and they can provoke conduct which brings pain and suffering to those who are innocent. “Just say no to drugs” is an effective statement of one’s determination. And this can be buttressed by the scripture: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”

When I consider the demons who are twins—even immodesty and immorality—I should make them triplets and include pornography. They all three go together. In the interpretation of Lehi’s dream, we find a rather apt description of the destructiveness of pornography: “And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.”

A modern-day Apostle, Hugh B. Brown, has declared, “Any immodesty inducing impure thoughts is a desecration of the body—that temple in which the Holy Spirit may dwell.”

I commend to you tonight a jewel from the Improvement Era. It was published in 1917 but is equally applicable here and now: “The current and common custom of indecency in dress, the flood of immoral fiction in printed literature, in the drama, and notably in [motion] picture[s] …, the toleration of immodesty in every-day conversation and demeanor, are doing deadly work in the fostering of soul-destroying vice.”

Alexander Pope, in his inspired “Essay on Man,” declared:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,

As to be hated needs but to be seen;

Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

Perhaps a fitting summation pertaining to this demon can be found in the Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

For each of us it is infinitely better to hear and heed the call of conscience, for conscience always warns us as a friend before punishing us as a judge.

The Lord Himself gives us the final word: “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.”

Brethren, there is one responsibility that no man can evade. That is the effect of personal influence. Our influence is surely felt in our respective families. Sometimes we fathers forget that once we, too, were boys, and boys at times can be vexing to parents...

In the performance of our responsibilities, I have learned that when we heed a silent prompting and act upon it without delay, our Heavenly Father will guide our footsteps and bless our lives and the lives of others. I know of no experience more sweet or feeling more precious than to heed a prompting only to discover that the Lord has answered another person’s prayer through you...

I still love that hymn and testify to you tonight as to the comfort it offers:

Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea

Or demons or men or whatever it be,

No waters can swallow the ship where lies

The Master of ocean and earth and skies.

They all shall sweetly obey thy will:

Peace, be still.

His words in holy writ are sufficient: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).

I testify to this truth, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Source: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 39; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 1, Volume 2, by David J. Ridges, p. 115; Excerpts from General Conference, October 2002, “Peace, Be Still,” by Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency.