Tuning Out the Noise

We can learn a lot from the story of Noah—including how to quiet the noise around and inside of us.

Take a moment to imagine the sights, smells, sounds and stress that Noah must have experienced during all that time spent on the ark. With all the rain, the sky must have been very dark. With so many animals on board, there must have been quite a heavy stench in the air. And surely all those animals weren’t silent, not to mention the sounds that were likely made as huge drops of rain pelted against the wooden ship. The only thing that got Noah through it all was his strong walk with God—a walk that ironically enough meant a whole lot of sitting around and waiting.

Yep, I’ll bet you have even more in common with Noah than you thought!

You’re likely inundated with similarly strong distractions, too. Maybe you juggle a job and taking care of your family. Maybe you struggle with worry. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with trying to make ends meet. Maybe it’s all of the above. No matter what the noise is, we can choose to give it our attention or develop ways to tune it out.

Here are a few ideas for just how to do that:

Squash molehills before they become mountains.
Worry is adept at snowballing. So, as soon as you feel it creeping in, stop it.
Jesus told us not worry. And while this may be easier said than done—like anything else—we can get better with practice.
So, intentionally choose to accept His gracious gift of peace (John 14:27). And make room for His peace by giving Him your worries (Psalm 55:22).

Don’t ignore the noise.
Keep it contained—with the right perspective.
Sure, stress may be screaming for your attention. In fact, it may be absolutely demanding it. But keep it in its place by framing it in the proper perspective. God created us as human beings, not human doings. Our first and foremost job is to focus on, worship and bring glory to God (Isaiah 43:7, 43:21, Ecclesiastes 12:13, 1 Samuel 12:24). Everything else is secondary. Can’t seem to catch your breath? Close your eyes. Then, don’t just count to 10. Count on Him.

Get it out by writing it down.
Sometimes we truly can’t let things go or quiet our inner rumblings until we get it out somehow. This can meaning sharing with a trusted friend or spouse. But sometimes, things may be so private, fear-filled or shame-inducing, that even the idea of sharing with another person creates even more stress. So, write it down. Share it only with God. No shame or fear need be felt because He already knows (1 John 3:20) and still loves and wants to hear from us (Psalm 50:15). The act of putting our troubles (or anything, for that matter) down on paper actually helps us better process them, too. Instead of just noise, suddenly problems—and possible insights and solutions—can become much more clear. Worried about someone finding your private confessions and thoughts? Make a commitment to yourself to shred it afterward. It’s the process that’s important to quieting the noise, not necessarily the notes that remain afterward.

When Struggles Stick Around

We don’t know a whole lot about Noah. We know he was married. We know he had three sons. We know he was 600 years old when the flood waters finally came (Genesis. But perhaps the most important thing we know about Noah is the fact that he stuck out from the crowd. He wasn’t like everyone else.

He “was a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (Genesis 6:9b ESV). And he was willing to listen to God no matter what—even when it meant building an ark well before the flood waters ever came.

But the most important tidbit in Noah’s story is that he wasn’t this way on his own. He wasn’t some super “do-gooder” from antiquity.

Noah wasn’t perfect. He screwed up just like you and me.

In fact, a little farther along in his story, Noah becomes drunk (Genesis 9:20-21 ESV). He wasn’t righteous and blameless on his own. He was set apart for one simple reason: “Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9c ESV).

The heart of Noah’s story is really about Noah’s heart. Noah didn’t just listen to God. He didn’t just hear Him without any follow through. Noah walked with God, allowing Him to direct his steps and actions. Noah wasn’t swayed by those around him. He was led by the Lord. And, consequently, Noah and his family weren’t just spared from the storm. They were literally carried through it.

Noah’s storm eventually came to an end, and the flood waters receded. But sometimes storms don’t pass. Sometimes struggles stick around. And sometimes we mess up in the middle of it all.

But even when this happens, we don’t have to worry. Our peace and our place with God has already been secured—no matter how our heart or head try to tell us differently—because it’s not about us. It’s about Him (John 3:30). And God has already promised that He’ll do all the fighting for us, if we’ll only wait on Him (Exodus 14:14, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 55:22).

So, no matter what you’re struggling with right now, no matter how you’re feeling, shift your focus. Stop looking so intently at your storm which can make fear and frustration fester (Proverbs 18:10). And instead, focus on the One in control over it all (Isaiah 45:7).