The Function of a Pacifier
I saw a pacifier on the sidewalk outside a mall (about a year ago). I looked around to see if there was a mom with a stroller, but I didn’t see anyone. So, I left the pacy there, and took a picture of it. Why? I left it there in case the mom returned; I took a picture of it because I thought I might use it in a sermon some day.
Having babies a long time ago and grand-babies not that long ago, almost all of whom loved their pacifiers, I know how important these little things can be. When I saw this on the sidewalk my first thought was, "Oh, dear; there’s a poor mom, probably driving home, with an unhappy baby. Hope she lives nearby." I distinctly remember, on more than one occasion, going out in the wee hours of the morning to an all-night store to replace a lost pacifier (don’t judge us).
Pacifiers, for parents, fulfill one crucial purpose — they keep their children... pacified; composed; relaxed; soothed and, therefore, not fussing, crying or screaming their heads off. Seeing the pacifier on the ground like this gave me chills for the mom. What does that have to do with us? Do I really need to tell you? To "pacify" is to placate, appease, calm down, mollify, still, silence, relax, compose... you get the idea. Given the present circumstances, a lot of us could use one of these right now. As much as we might like to, most adults would not consider buying and using a pacifier, at least not in public. So, where do we turn to “calm down” in the face of the news that this coronavirus problem is going from bad to worse? Philippians 4:6-7 ("be anxious for nothing...") is timely and it comes with a prescription: prayer.
Then there’s Matthew 6:25-34 that starts off with "do not be anxious about your life" (v. 24) and ends with "do not be anxious about tomorrow" (v. 34). In that text, Jesus tells us to take a lesson from the birds and lilies, neither of which have ever had a confirmed case of panic attacks. Those instructions are straightforward and, let’s face it, in the form of a command ("do not"). These appeal to the intellect but where do we turn for emotional support?
God has given us a great spiritual "pacifier" for adults. You’ll find it in the Psalms. There are many that are designed to comfort us in times of trial, represented nicely by the famous lines in Psalm 23 ("though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me..."). Then there’s Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God" (cf. 37:7). I like this one a lot, too: "How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you." — Psalm 139:17-18
"To 'pacify' is to placate, appease, calm down, mollify, still, silence, relax, compose... you get the idea. Given the present circumstances, a lot of us could use one of these right now."
A few days into this stay at home order, I was already hearing that some parents were pulling their hair out. I think some decided to become a lobbyist for the teachers association and began to praise homeschoolers as if they were national heroes. Now that we’re weeks into the health crisis, I’m sure there are plenty of parents at the end of their proverbial ropes. In other words, they need something to help calm down; they could use a pacifier. Try the Bible. Look at what God has done for us, how he’s taken care of us — how can we fret, when we have so much help, if we’ll just avail ourselves of it?
[This article was originally published in April 2020.]