Updated: May 15, 2020
We will not fear though the earth give way. – Psalm 46:2
In this age of the Coronavirus pandemic, these words have struck a chord within me. The earth seems to be giving way beneath us as our entire way of life has shifted and we’re all scrambling to catch up. And yet, we do not have to fear because we have a God who is steadfast. As circumstances continue to change on a daily basis, Psalm 46 is grounding me, returning me to that steady rock that remains unchanged, and revealing what needs to fall away.
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
It feels as though the earth beneath us is giving way. Life as we know it has shifted. The routines that once seemed so steady, the people on whom we depended, our sources of comfort and security have all been stripped away. Something so simple as opening a door now feels like a threat. It’s unsettling and disorienting.
Every day brings worse news and updated protocol. Just as soon as we find our grip on this new reality, it changes again. We have lost our footing, and we’re forced to re-learn how to lead our daily lives, not knowing what tomorrow will bring.
There is one thing that remains unchanged, one thing that we can depend on to stay constant. Our God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is our refuge, our safe place where we find comfort and strength. He is always with us and ready to help. God protects us and provides for us. He will steady us as our strongholds tremble and our foundation shakes.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress.
Even as chaos ensues around us, we will turn our attention to the gentle stream, the water of life, the presence of God that sustains us. He offers peace in the midst of the turmoil. We do not have to fear. We do not have to panic and hoard. We do not need to look out only for ourselves at the expense of others. And we do not need to cling to the things that are falling away.
There are so many voices telling us what to do and what to think. They tell us how to save ourselves. But there is one voice that we need to hear.
Can we quiet the chaos in our minds? Can we shut off our phones and turn away from the headlines long enough to listen? When God speaks, all the uproar fades away and peace remains. Do you hear his voice above the noise?
8 Come and see the works of the Lord,The desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear, He burns the shields with fire.
10 Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The Lord Almighty is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress.
We have built our kingdoms and established our strongholds, but they begin to crumble in these uncertain times. We see how unstable they are. Maybe we’ve known it all along. Maybe that’s why we’ve fought so hard to protect them. We’ve felt the need to prove our power and worth. In the insecurity of those shaky kingdoms, we have sought to exalt ourselves and force our own agendas. Will we realize the toll that’s taken as we’ve stepped over others for our benefit? Will we recognize the toll that’s taken on our own humanity?
As the earth shakes and our strongholds fall, we can choose to keep clinging to our failing kingdoms or we can pause to recognize the power and authority of our peacemaking God. He is the one who sustains us. But this God does not play favorites. His blessing and presence are not confined to any earthly empire. He does not seek to lift up any one faction over another. He is not here to promote us; rather, he is the one who will be exalted. He is the one whose agenda – an agenda of love and restoration – we need to pursue.
Though it may be painful, this stripping away that we’re experiencing is an opportunity. It’s a chance to re-evaluate our values and the places that we’ve found our identity. It’s a chance to examine our own hearts, to lay bare our souls, to recognize the idols we’ve been worshipping. Even greater than the tragedy of this pandemic would be the travesty of letting it pass us by without bringing about the transformation that is needed, not just in our world but within ourselves.
Will we keep chasing after things that will never satisfy? Will we keep seeking out success and security at the expense of our brothers and sisters? Will we keep fighting against each other? Or will we finally begin to trust in the abundance of a God who desires wholeness for us all? Will we see our common humanity and our common need? Will we see the image of God within ourselves and within each other?
Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. When you feel the fear, anxiety, or anger rise up within you, be still. Listen for God’s voice. What is he asking you to release? What does he want to awaken within you?
Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10
Some questions for reflection…
What is causing you fear, anxiety, and/or anger?
What loss are you grieving most?
Where are you turning for comfort or escape?
What do you need to release?
What change or new perspective do you need to embrace?