Psalm 46 was the psalm that was read at my ordination, many years ago. The psalmist begins with these words. ”God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though it's waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” It is a picture of Our mighty God, the one who is in control. And He is in control because He made all of creation. When Jesus commanded the wind and the waves to be still, they were. Because He created them, and they knew Him. He is still in control even though it feels like we are careening down a steep hill.
There is a song out right now by a woman named Tasha Layton. It is entitled Into the Sea. She has used Psalm 46 as the foundation for this song. In this song she asks God the question ‘are you still good?” Many of us wonder this at times. People are isolated still, after months of quarantine. People are on the verge of homelessness because their jobs are tenuous at best and they do not know from one day to the next what might happen. So many gatherings and events have been cancelled or significantly scaled back because of COVID. Kids have been learning virtually... or at least they have been trying to. Now many are back in school... live and in person. But an increase in COVID cases has that in jeopardy now and once again things may change. It feels like we are living on top of a yo-yo.
But listen to the refrain of this song. She writes ’though the mountains may be moved into the sea, though the ground beneath might give way. I can hear my Father singing over me... ITS GONNA BE OK, ITS GONNA BE OK.” We have family members who are struggling with diseases, scary ones. Some are angry because this seems to be endless. Others are slumping into depression for the very same reason. The weight of COVID is being felt by everyone to varying degrees. Whatever normal used to be... we would like it back. But we won't see that normal ever again. There will be something new.
Old or new, God will still be in the midst of everything. Old or new, God is still sovereign. Old or new, Jesus is still on the throne. Old or new, it’s gonna be OK. Our challenge is to trust that it's gonna be OK. Our challenge is to lean into the Lord. And perhaps hang on for dear life. Refuge is defined as something providing shelter. It is a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger or trouble. That is what the psalmist says God is for us. You see, there is nothing we will ever face that is out of God's control. That makes the best place to be... with Him.
We turn to the Lord and pour out our hopes and dreams, fears and sorrows. We turn to Him to pour out our hearts and innermost thoughts and hurts. When we are in His will, we can face anything because we know He is always with us. And we can run to Him when we feel alone, scared, helpless, sad, even joyful. Picture being a kid again and how you ran to your earthly father or grandfather. They would swoop you up in their big strong arms and hold you tight and you felt safe. All was right with the world at that point. We can do that with our heavenly Father as well. When we go to Him, He opens his arms wide open and welcomes us into His loving embrace. And we know, it's gonna be OK. He waits for us to come to Him. Take a few minutes today and read through Psalm 91. It provided an amazing picture of God's provision. We all need to be reminded from time to time that God is a place of refuge. We get so caught up in our lives and sometimes our challenges, and we try to do everything in our own strength. But our strength is puny compared to the strength God has and is willing to use for us.
Take a listen to these words from James. This is James 1:2-5. ”Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
We do not have a guarantee that believing and trusting in the Lord will bring us smooth sailing. If anything, I think the challenges are bigger. But we are guaranteed that the Lord will be with us wherever we go. He will be with us through whatever challenges come our way. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is our refuge and strength. And it's gonna be OK.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W