Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In Part 1, I talked about Psalm 46 and tragedy. I’m talking again about how God is there for us as a tower of strength and help. I can still recall the horror of September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers in the USA collapsed. Did you see the terrible images on TV?
In the Newsweek magazine in August 2006, there was an article about it and the author said:
The great shock to the American system is realizing that no fortress remains intact, no wall tall enough, and no place really safe.
No Place on Earth Is Really Safe
That reminds me of the story I heard several years ago about a retired couple who wanted to find a place that was free from all conflict and war. They searched all over the world and settled on an island they thought would be very secure. They were thrilled until their paradise on the Falkland Islands was turned into a war zone by Britain and Argentina. There is no place on earth that is really safe; but we do have a safe place with God our eternal Father.
Psalm 46:2 says: “We wont be afraid even if the mountains tumble into the deep sea, and the oceans roar and the mountains are shaken”. Here the writer is imagining the worst calamity that could possibly hit his people as he describes earthquakes, volcanoes erupting, and mountains slipping into the sea. Even though the ‘earth gives way’, or the landscape suddenly changes, we don’t have to be afraid.
Mountains provided refuge in times of war and were considered to be the most secure part of nature. They were the most fixed and firm things on earth. It was this confidence that the prophet Isaiah had when he said: “The Lord gives perfect peace to those whose faith is firm. So always trust the Lord because He is forever our mighty rock”.
God Is Right Here with Us
Verse 3 in Psalm 46 describes the roaring waters of the sea, which is a picture of our lives when they’re out of control. ‘Roaring’ literally means to be in great commotion.
Elisabeth Elliot has lost two husbands. Her first husband, missionary Jim Elliot was killed by the Huaorani (aka Auca) Indians in Ecuador and her second husband died from cancer. In describing how she felt, she sought refuge in Psalm 46. She wrote this:
In the first shock of death, everything that has seemed most dependable has given way. Mountains are falling, earth is reeling. In such a time it is a profound comfort to know that although all seems to be shaken, one thing is not: God is not shaken.
God protects us when we seek refuge in him. Fortunately, we don’t have to run far to find him because his presence is right here with us. God’s grace flows through like a river that brings gladness and joy to his people. While the ocean rages and foams, God’s presence is depicted as a calm and gently flowing stream.
When we put our faith in Jesus, we have ‘God with us’ at all times.
This image in Scripture is used to represent happiness, abundance, and peace, even when everything else is falling apart. You and I can have joy even when our lives are filled with turmoil and we can have peace in the midst of problems. God’s presence with his people is one of the central truths of Scripture.
In Psalm 46, verse 5 says that “God is within her” (the city of God) and verse 7 declares that the “Lord Almighty is with us.” This is from the root word ‘Immanuel’, which means God with us and was used in Matthew 1:23 to refer to Jesus. That means that when we put our faith in Jesus, we have ‘God with us’ at all times. I think there’s nothing better than that!
And We Have Nothing to Fear
No matter how bad things get, we can always count on his presence. The last part of verse 6 reminds us of God’s incredible power. When “he lifts his voice, the earth melts.” The raging world melts or dissolves before him. Jesus Christ is God and Lord of history. Nothing has happened outside of his plan. Nothing ever leaves him bewildered or astonished. Nothing ever catches him by surprise.
Though there is tragedy and war, though the mountains fall into the sea, those who know Jesus Christ have nothing to fear. Whether nature wreaks havoc, or the nations rage against one another, God is our refuge. When another war erupts, and another disaster decimates our country, God will still provide his protection and presence because of his position as Lord of Hosts. He will ultimately triumph.
It’s only when we say No to our own efforts that we can ‘know’ God.
George McCauslin was a director of a YMCA that was losing members and experiencing terrible financial problems. He found himself working 85 hours-a-week, sleeping little at night, and filled with fear during the day. A counsellor told him he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and needed to take a break. So George took the afternoon off, grabbed a pad of paper and took a walk in the woods.
He could feel the tension leave his body the longer he walked. He then sat down under a tree and for the first time in months, he was still before God. He decided to write God a letter. It wasn’t a very long letter but it became the turning point in this life: “Dear God, today I hereby resign as general manager of the universe. Love, George.” As he told people this story, he would smile and add, “And wonder of wonders, God accepted my resignation.”
It’s time to say ‘enough’ and open our hands in submission to the Almighty. It’s only when we say No to our own efforts that we can ‘know’ God. To ‘know’ means to acknowledge and comprehend, or to discover. We can’t even begin to know God experientially until we become still before him.
This is actually a rebuke. We’re to cease striving and stop pushing and prodding. The only way to do this is by submitting ourselves to the Saviour.