I had the opportunity to share the Word of God on Sunday. It is always a blessing and I never take it lightly. In light of recent events however, I struggled with what would be an appropriate word that could truly minister to the people at this time. Many of you are familiar with the events that occured in Charlotesville. It was rather sad and disgusting to watch the display of learned ignorance by those who participated in the rally. Also, to make matters worse, to watch an even more ignorant President give remarks that lacked wisdom, empathy, and intelligence. I was really seeking God to find a word that would ultimately serve as an encouragement to people in light of this time. Before I knew it, my mind went to one of the more familiar Psalms. It was Psalm 46. The first and second verses are quite powerful. It reads, “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,”. The words almost leaped off of the page and smacked me in the face. Look closely to what the writer is saying. The mountains are being moved into the heart of the sea, the earth is giving away, the waters are roaring and foaming, and mountains are trembling, BUT, they are singing, “We will not fear!” How in the world could this be? How could the writer go outside and survey the surroundings and confidently sing with his/her head held high, “I will not be fearful”? It is very interesting to consider, for as a nation we find ourselves in a very similar predicament. Take a look around you. The entire world sits on edge as we wonder about the next move of Korea. Donald Trump continues to prove his incompetency on daily basis. Overt Racism continues to peek his head for us to see. We haven’t even considered what might be going on in your personal life. It just seems that we find ourselves in a very similar predicament as that of the writer, but we can sing just like the writer, “Therefore we will not fear…” The question then becomes: Why? I am so glad that you asked.
There are few reasons found here and I want to look closely at verse 1 just for this paricular day. Verse reads, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
- The writer begins rather simply, “God…” This is vital to the passage for it provides reason as to why you and I never have to be fearful. The word “God” in the Hebrew here, is the word “Elohim”. The first time that this name for God shows up in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The first time that the name shows up is significant. The Hebrews believed that prior to creation, there was chaos over the deep. They believed that God was “hovering” over the waters of chaos and then He spoke, and things changed dramatically. Look closely again at the imagery in verses 2–3, “…the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its water roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” This is a quite clear image of chaos. The writer calls on the name of the one that has conquered Chaos before. Essentially, if He was able to do it in creation, then he is still able to do it now. This is definitely not the first time that this nation has seen racism of this magnitude. This is isn’t the first time that we have had to be at the mercy of an incompetent leader. This isn’t the first time that have wondered about the rumors of war. This isn’t the first time that you have struggled in whatever arean that you may be struggling in. This proves to every Believer that there is a reason that to hold your head high no matter the Circumstances because your God has a proven track record of Coonquering the Chaos that is Present.
- But this verse continues, “God is our refuge…” The passage continues to build. Every time this word “refuge” shows up, it is reference as shelter from a storm. God is shelter from the storm, but different from some shelter that we are used to. Reminds me of Buddhist Horyujii Temple in Japan. It was built in 607 AD. It stands 122 feet high. Since 607, this building has been struck 46 times by earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 or greater, but the building is still standing. Tourist from all over the world visit this great building to see how it continues to stand despite all that mother nature has offered it. However, there is catch to it. There is no way to enter the building, you can only view it from the outside. If a storm ever came, the building cannot provide any refuge from the storm. That isn’t anything like the God that we serve. As a matter of fact, while you can’t be “in” the shelter of the Temple, God can be “inside” of you. Jesus even makes invitation in the New Testament, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” You Can Run to God!
- Let’s Continue with verse 1, “God is our refuge and strength…” Strength is important here. The writer isn’t fearful, but not based upon his own strength. The writer is talking about the strength of might of “Elohim”. The very same God that had so much power and vitality in his voice that one word from Him completely shifts and transforms the circumstance. The writer is in position that I found myself in before. I have a brother who is a trainer and I remember when I first started lifting. My brother can be tough sometimes in the gym, and motioned for me to sit down on the bench. I saw the weight on the bar and thought that it was perhaps too much. I told him that I couldn’t do it, and he simply motioned again for me to sit down. I sat down and took the weight off the rack and begin to push will all my might but the weight simply wasn’t moving. But as I continued to push the weight, it gradually begin to rise and evenutally I was able to rack it. After the weight was racked, I looked at my brother and he winked, “I told you that you could do it.” But it was all because of my brother’s strength and not mine. God, like my brother, serves a lot of time as a Divine Spotter. When we push with all our might he has a way of taking a load and then winking, “I told you that you can do it.” The reason that we are able to make it is because of the Strength of God and not ours!
- I realize that this might be a little longer than usual(lol). Let’s finish off strong. The verse ends, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” I really like the way that the Voice translates this, “…When trouble seems near, God is nearer…” God is a both Willing and Able Participant in Our Lives. We all know people that are willing to help us, but are not able. And we also know people that are able but not willing. We should be thankful for the fact that God can occupy both spaces in our lives.
Verse 1 alone for this passage provides so much encouragement for us as we find ourselves in a very peculiar situations. Essentially while it may be raining, we all can Sing in the Rain! The Believer Has the Unique Opportunity of Always Being Able to Sing…Even if It’s Raining.We can Sing with Confidence that God is our Refuge and Strength. It’s Storming, but I still have a Song. The Storm Cannot Take Away Your Song. Walk Confidently in That.