Be Shook but Not Shaken

Tim TimberlakeBy Tim Timberlake8 Minutes

Excerpt taken from The Art of Overcoming: Letting God Turn Your Endings into Beginnings by Tim Timberlake

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011 was one of the worst nuclear power plant incidents ever. The disaster originated off the coast of Japan, deep under the ocean, with a magnitude-9 earthquake that lasted for six minutes. This caused the reactors’ energy supply to fail, meaning the reactor could no longer cool itself down.

There were emergency generators for just that sort of thing, though, so the problem was under control. Except it wasn’t. The earthquake caused a forty-foot-high tsunami that swept over the seawall and shut down the emergency pumps. From there everything spiraled out of control, leading to multiple nuclear meltdowns and explosions.

Have you ever been in an earthquake? On a more fundamental level, they are scary because the one thing that seems most permanent and trustworthy in this world—solid ground—proves to be as unstable as water. You find yourself betrayed by something you never thought to doubt.

This feeling of panic, even betrayal, isn’t limited to physical earthquakes, of course. When any aspect of our sense of security—be it mental, emotional, relational, financial, social—is shaken and things we assumed were solid and secure start crashing down upon our heads, the same panic sets in. The same fear. The same sense of loss and confusion. When the things we believed to be untouchable, unshakeable, and unmovable, including our beliefs and worldviews, start rocking and rolling around us, it makes us question what—if anything—is trustworthy. What sources of our security can be shaken? Is anything safe if solid ground can turn to water under our feet?

Here’s the thing: everything that can be shaken will be shaken. We need to get used to shaking. We need to expect it. And we even need to appreciate it. Because the shaking helps us see what is stable and what is not. The shaking reminds us not to put our trust in the wrong things. The shaking points us back to God, the only unshakable foundation in the entire universe.

The prophet Isaiah said this:

“Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
(Isaiah 54:10)

David wrote something similar: “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8).

In the face of shaking, both Isaiah and David recommend the same thing: look up. God cannot be shaken, of course. His love is unfailing, his compassion is built into his nature, and his promise of peace is a rock-solid guarantee.

No matter what shakes around us, God is still on the throne. And he’s not even spilling his coffee because earthquakes can’t move heaven. They are, by definition, limited to the earth.

When everything in your world is shaking, put your trust in the one who transcends the world. The one who walks on water. The one who stills the wind and the waves, who set the stars in motion and knows them all by name, who has every hair of your head counted, who knows more about you and cares more about you than you do.

God cannot be shaken, so you will not be shaken.

There’s a difference between being shaken and being shook, though. If you read the story of David’s life in the Bible, you’ll see his emotions were all over the place, but ultimately his security was in God. His declaration that “I will not be shaken” referred to his inner sense of security in God. He was saying that deep down, he knew he would be okay.

In other words, he was shook but not shaken. He had peace in God, and that peace was projected into his external world.

The same goes for us. The shaking on the outside doesn’t have to shake us on the inside. When the world falls around us, it doesn’t mean our world has to fall within us. We can turn to God and find strength.

Strength in God is more permanent than possessions, more valuable than money, and more trustworthy than anything this world has to offer. Strength in God can chase down the enemy and reclaim what was stolen. It can rebuild what was burned to ashes. It can mourn for what was lost, then stand to its feet and believe for the future.

The apostle Paul, like David, had an unshakable faith. He wrote, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:7–9).

It is precisely the shaking that reveals the treasure. And that treasure is God himself. His strength, his presence, and his mercy are unbreakable and unstoppable.

Maybe you’re shook right now. Maybe you feel like the ground won’t stop moving beneath you. You lost something important, something that used to give you security. The fear and grief you feel are part of the process because you aren’t just letting a source of security die: you are dying to that source of security.

If you’re wondering if you’ll ever feel safe again…you will.

Because you are safe. Right now you are safe in God’s arms. Let the shaking do what shaking does best: reveal the frailty of human hope and the reality of God’s presence.

Then find your safety, security, and stability in the unshakable love of God.



What makes you feel secure? If you lost that thing, what would you do? How can you begin investing your security in God’s love and sovereignty rather than in things that might be taken away?

Taken from “The Art of Overcoming: Letting God Turn Your Endings into Beginnings” by Tim Timberlake. Copyright 2023 by Tim Timberlake. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Publishing.

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