The developments of the last weeks have been unsettling to say the least, much of what has taken place has upended the normalcy of our lives both in the big picture of how we look at the world, down to the daily realities of how our lives and families function. My mind and heart have been swirling all over the place, trying to process all the changes, looking to help our family settle into the patterns that we don't have any idea how long will last, reading the news on the latest about the coronavirus and how quickly it is spreading, and wondering what the future may hold for our entire society and way of life. What will we do? How is all this going to turn out? Where is God in all of this? What is he looking to accomplish when his church seems to be put on the sideline through all of this? There are dozens of other questions that I'm sure all of us our asking right now. What we need in times like this is to turn to what we believe and once again truly trust in it. God has given us the overwhelmingly gracious gift of his Word that stands true during all times and ages, even as it has carried God's people through many times like this throughout the history of the church. I encourage us all to cling more closely to the Lord Jesus with the simple yet significant means of prayer and holding fast to the truth of the Bible. There are many places in the Bible that we can turn to for hope and perspective, for the anchor that we need during times of uncertainty. Just one among many where we can find these things is Psalm 46. I encourage you to read slowly through this Psalm, meditating on the steadying truth from God that is here.
God Is Our Fortress
"To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.
"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah"
Let me direct your attention to a few things from this Psalm: First, it is like the first 3 verses were written for just a time like this. It is God alone who has and is what we need during these days. He is our refuge and strength, he is the one we should run to for safety and security in times of trouble. He is much more capable of providing what we need than our bank account or retirement fund or whether we have enough toilet paper to make it through. I think here of Psalm 20:7: "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." Today, what might we insert into the place of chariots and horses? Might it be not getting COVID-19? Might it be a vaccine or good medical care? What is it for you that identifies the place of struggle that vies for your trust in place of God? I encourage you to take this very thing before God and tell him your struggle, ask God to direct you back to him as the object of your true and eternal trust.
Psalm 46 is also dripping with the sovereign control of God over all things, including calamities such as this. We see this clearly in v. 9. It is God who makes wars cease. We could just as truly say that it is God who will bring about an end to this pandemic. He will do it in his time, and he will bring about the good things that he desires, even through the pain, tragedy and hardship that all of this will bring upon the world.
There is also hope in this Psalm. God reminds us that he is with his people (v. 7) and also that he will help when morning dawns (v. 5). It is good for us to be thinking and praying for the time when morning dawns once again after all this subsides. What changes will all this bring to our world? What opportunities will the church and the people of God have to offer hope and salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ to a world that may now be open to look to him for help? Will we be ready? Will we be ready even in the middle of all of this, to show that we have a real and lasting hope even in times of danger, that causes us to risk loving our neighbors, even at cost to ourselves?
The Psalm concludes with the well known "Be still, and know that I am God.", but also follows with "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" (v.10), and ends with "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." (v. 11). It is good for us to be reminded of these truths. With all that is happening, with all that we could worry about, we need to be still before the God who will be exalted in all things. We need to rest in the simple truth that our God will be with us, through the good things in life, through sickness, and even through death. God will bring those who belong to him through faith in Jesus Christ, all the way home, to his wonderful kingdom, a place where God will "wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Rev. 21:4)
In Psalm 46, God is reminding us once again, that we can trust him. He cares for us, he is with us, he is our security and safety. He always has been and he always will be. May we be more able to see and truly depend on him in times like these.