For the next few posts I would like us to reflect on Psalm 46, which graphically describes the situation in which we find ourselves today, and speaks hope that’s real into that situation.
The first three verses of that Psalm describe an unspeakably desperate situation.
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
I believe that this passage described the seven year Tribulation Period, which seems not to be too far off. The catastrophe catalogued here will find physical fulfillment during that period. Imagine living at a time when mountains will be falling into the sea, tsunamis will be sweeping the oceans, and the remaining mountains will be quaking from the impact!!!
Though today we are not confronted with those kinds of physical catastrophes, we live at a time when the societal shakeup is crashing in on us at those proportions. As late as the 1980s homosexuality was considered to be a pathology by the American Psychiatric Association. In just a few short years it has now become a lifestyle to be embraced, with some of those who hold a different opinion being subject to various types of harassment. It’s difficult to believe that as recently as the presidency of John F. Kennedy America had a balanced budget. Now we are wallowing in debt with no end in sight to a reckless expenditures. It was not that long ago that we were living under a relatively ordered government. Today we have a President who abandons the Constitution at will, threatening Congress that he will unilaterally move on initiatives if they don’t respond to his demands. Believe it or not, until the 1960s illegal drugs were for the most part unheard of in our society. Now marijuana is legalized in some places and commonplace practically everywhere. School shootings were also unheard of, and now they are experienced so frequently that some of them are only covered as a footnote in the national news.
As we experience these societal upheavals, it feels like we are living through Psalm 46.
In the face of these catastrophes the Psalm begins with the good news. The first word is “God.” Viewing current developments without acknowledging His presence leaves us totally hopeless. The world is going to hell in a handbasket, and nothing is going to get in its way. However, introducing God into the picture changes everything.
This is especially true in light of what the writer tells us about God. He is our refuge and strength. As our refuge, He protects us from the evil without. As our strength, He provides the resources within to confront these catastrophes. So He has the problems without and the provisions within all covered.
In addition, the psalmist assures us of God’s participation as we confront our challenges. He is “a very present help in trouble.” Often it is at the time of trouble when people bail out on us. However, it is during those times in particular that God shows up in a special way. I love that phrase “a very present help.” A translation of the Hebrew phrase would come out something like, “easy to be found.” When we are in trouble, we don’t have to look hard to find God.
In the face of the kind of chaos described, because God is our refuge and strength, and because He promises to be there to help us, the writer asserts, “We will not fear.”
The evening news may sound a lot like the bad news in this Psalm. The world is coming apart at the seams. However, as we listen we can view those events through the glasses of the first verse, that God is our refuge and strength; He is a very present help in trouble. And in response we can assert, “We will not fear.”
Perhaps today you are facing your personal set of challenges that to you feel much like the events of Psalm 46. You can count on God to fulfill those roles in your life as you pass through the difficulties that confront you.