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Hurry Sickness


Issue 311

There is a kind of feeling which seems to permeate the modern working culture: it is that of speed, racing, fast-response times and instant results. The effects of this culture are experienced in your head; you feel frenetic, rushed and pressurised; in short you feel that you are in a hurry.

The syndrome has indeed been referred to as ‘hurry sickness’, and as a summer approaches, or any season, where a possible vacation may occur, the sickness may become acute as the possible pause approaches.

Your head may be spinning, exploding or yelling at you right now as you try to cram into your calendar the appointments, projects or meetings you must arrange. You know that even visiting the bathroom may be a time management issue, as each minute of the day is allocated to hectic scheduling.

The feeling of panic may be related to requests or demands from others as well as your own internal taskmaster or mistress, urging you to speed up and keep going. If you take a moment to close your eyes the noise can become deafening and the pace breakneck, so better to keep going hoping your body won’t complain to much or contract an illness rather than contract a great financial deal.

Anyone who tells you at this point to slow down simply doesn’t get it; they merely join the chorus of irritation in your head and the task to ‘slow down’ gets added to the end of an ever growing ‘to do’ list. It is perfectly understandable that you may resent advice to slow down; on its own it is not enough. The writer of psalm 46 has plenty to say to people under pressure. When he gets near to the climax of his poem he quotes God himself who is instructing you not just to slow down but to ‘still down’. The command is to “be still” – it is about stopping altogether.

At this point you may find yourself even more irritated. No-one in their right mind would adopt a strategy of stopping in the face of demands – rather, you need to speed up to reach your goals. Don’t such advisors realise that  people, and things, are depending on you and are counting on you to deliver?

And therein lies the weakness of your position; the psalmist does not simply say “be still” but “be still and know that I am God”. There is a stillness, but it is an active stillness. It is to do with refocusing on the centre of your universe and recognising that it does not all depend on you; it means drawing down resources from the endless supplier of your soul, so that you can reformat the madness and let God transform it into trust.

The stillness is not the absence of activity, but the presence of God in the speed; it is his hand on the wheel and his voice in the storm.

You may like to try this command out for size at this exact moment. Stop what you are doing and know in every part of your conscious and subconscious being that God is God – you are not – and stillness is better than sickness.


Psalm 46:10-11

10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

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Tags: busy-ness, health, peace, prioritising, resources, stillness

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Geoff Shattock

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