“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV)
Because I have lived in a country where very strong earthquakes are too common, experiencing the power of God in nature is something that is not foreign to me whatsoever. I remember a particularly strong earthquake that hit us when I was growing up; it shook the ground so hard it sloshed out half the water stored in our pila, and the pila was full! The walls crimped, the power lines and the poles on the street shook violently, and drivers found it difficult to keep driving straight.
My Honduran relatives, who were visiting us, were even more amazed than I was to see the power of God displayed this way. It was then that I realized that as humans, we do not have control of anything; it is our great and most Holy God. He is the one that is in total control of everything, always!
Psalm 46 has been expressed in the popular hymn by Martin Luther, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”. Verses 1 through 3 talk about the presence of God in cataclysms, and the psalmist comforts God’s people by saying that the Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. I think we should experience the Lord Almighty in this quarantine as our fortress, as our very accessible help in dire times as these! Even when “the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,” or “the plague that destroys at midday” assaults us (NIV), we should not fear: God is with us, He is Immanuel!
During the events that assail us, and even when we reel from different unexpected things that are thrown at us (no matter where you are in life), God is capable of assuaging our biggest fears when we choose to make Him our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. If God is our fortress, an isolated, elevated place where people built a stronghold against the enemy, there is no reason for us to fear.
“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our Helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing”: let us not fear! God is with us, in us, and for us!
Enjoy this beautiful rendition of Martin Luther’s “A mighty fortress is our God (Ein' feste Burg)”, and rely on our beautiful Yahweh, even to the point of not fearing!
When I have confronted difficult circumstances over the years, one of the Bible passages that has given me greatest solace and peace is in Luke 12. To summarize, in verses 22 and 23 Jesus tells us: "…do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” In verses 25 and 26 he tells us: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” He concludes in verse 31 saying: “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (NIV)
The passage is especially relevant and comforting in current times. We are confronting the consequences of COVID 19 that cause deep worry to abound. We are practically imprisoned in our homes. We may suddenly undergo self-quarantine having constant doubt about whether we have been lethally infected. Many of us face job loss, economic collapse, sickness of ourselves and family members, hospitalization and even imminent death.
How can we find peace in these circumstances? How can we possibly not worry when these threats are constantly knocking at the front door or have already entered the household seeking to drag us into the depths of despair?
In these troubling conditions, we must face the truth. Do we really believe Jesus or not? Jesus tells us not to worry and to seek God’s kingdom. Worrying does us absolutely no good whatsoever. It only increases our suffering. Most importantly, He tells us that when we seek God’s kingdom, God will attend to our real needs.
Of course, we must be properly cautious and responsible, pray continuously as God commands and not put God to the test by flouting good guidelines. But when we do, it is a true test of our faith -- whether or not we can stop worrying and find peace in the midst of turbulent times.
Do we really believe or don’t we? The truth is that God always knows exactly what is happening. He loves us boundlessly. He wants the very best for us and knows exactly what that is. He has absolute power to achieve the very best for us. There is eternal life with Jesus awaiting us. The truth is that when we put ourselves in God’s hands with faith, God WILL ALWAYS provide what is absolutely best for us in an eternal scope (although it may not be what we want). We can cast doubts aside, trust totally in Him, completely stop worrying and be at peace.
God’s promise does not mean maybe or sometimes. There is no need for Plan B. It is His promise always. When we firmly believe and pass this test of faith, we can truly stop worrying and find incredible peace, even in the most trying circumstances with no end in sight, such as those we are currently facing.
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