Author: Paul Beckman, a member of Word of Life, a community of disciples on mission in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
There is nothing to be afraid of
“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, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46)
One constant admonition in Scripture is, “Do not fear,” even when there are multiple reasons to be afraid. When we do fear, God calls us to be secure and courageous. And that means finding a place or person that we can trust. Today’s Psalm makes some remarkable claims about the ultimate Place and Person where we can be at peace, no matter what is going on in our lives.
The first verse begins at the center of safety: God is for us a refuge and strength. The sense here is that we are always connected to him and focused on him, even when life is smooth and unruffled. That’s why we aren’t afraid even when the whole world falls apart. The language is powerful and extreme. The Psalm tells us that the earth is moving, the oceans are heaving, the mountains are shaking and that they’re even crumbling into the sea. If God is in control in these extreme situations, then our circumstances are well within his control and he will provide.
Furthermore, the sovereign God in whom we trust has built a city where we can dwell. This city has a river that refreshes us with joy. The city represents God’s kingdom and its people who live together under the grace and blessing of the Lord. The river represents the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Again, the language is comprehensive. God’s city cannot be destroyed because he is there and because he protects it day and night.
What should we do in light of who God is? First, we should come and behold the Lord’s works. We should remember and recount all the great things he’s done in and for us. Second, we should be still so that we can experience God as God.
Look and listen. Remember and declare. Surrender and rest. There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.