Here we sit 6 months into this pandemic. We had all hoped it would end sooner than this. People have lost jobs, mental health issues have increased, and the mask mandates have caused arguments and divisions all over. Challenges over churches and schools resuming and debates over what is essential and what is non-essential never cease. Since the inception of the COVID-19 we’ve also had riots, fires, and a lot of name calling. Finally, fear and anxiety over the uncertainty of life infects us all.
How are we to take all of this? Even the strongest of us are getting weary of the ongoing craziness.
It is in times like these that I love to read Psalm 46. This psalm was popularized by Martin Luther in “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” This Psalm reminds us of the grandeur and transcendence of God, and yet reveals the nearness and immanence to His creation, but especially to us, His people.
The Psalm is divided into three sections and either directly or indirectly deals with three different situations that life may throw our way. The first section deals with earthly changes: earthquakes, tsunamis, and could expand to any kind of natural disaster, like fires, or even the pandemic. The second section deals with political challenges: peoples murmur and rise up, especially foreigners, there’s uproar in the cities, and governments rise and fall. This could include the riots. The third section deals with the issue of wars. This could include the cultural war we find ourselves in just as much as the physical wars we face globally.
The solution? God, period. We find in each section a special name of God highlighted. Where there are earthly changes there is, Elohim, who will be our strength and help; who is greater than creation itself since He is the one who created it. Where there is political upheaval, there is El yon – THE Most High – higher and greater than any ruler, with a kingdom more powerful than anything this earth can muster. Where there are wars, there is Yahweh, our warrior King and LORD. Just His very presence causes all to fall down in fear of Him. The Great I AM whose armies, led by the Messiah, will one day put an end to evil once and for all. Who will establish His kingdom as an everlasting Kingdom and into whose kingdom all the other Kingdoms of the world will bring their glory.
Our comfort? Based upon God’s names, in the middle of the storm, He is our Immanuel, a very present help. In the midst of political chaos, He is our Jehovah Nissi, our banner under whose canopy we find stability. In the center of the battlefield, He breaks the bows and shatters the spear, as He is our Jehovah Shalom, our peace.
The result? WE DON’T HAVE TO FEAR! We don’t have to worry or fret because God IS near and He will see us through all this craziness in which we find ourselves.
The question is: Are we being still enough to put our trust in Him so that we can experience His deliverance? The Psalm ends with the exhortation to “Be still and know that I am God.” Another translation says, “Relax, and see that I am God.” Are we seeking Him for salvation, or trying to do it ourselves? Are we exalting Him as the greatest in all the cosmos, or are we throwing our worship to that which is lesser than?
In closing, I love this Scripture when Israel was being pursued by the armies of Egypt from behind and had the Red Sea in front of them. In a panic they cried out to Moses and Moses’ response was: “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord…The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13–14, NKJV)
See the correlation? In the midst of impending doom and conflict, be still and know that God will fight for you. Be still and know that He is God. And as God fought for them: Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. (Exodus 14:31, ESV)
Be still. Know that even in the midst of this pandemic, mask mandates, and fires, He is still God. That hasn’t changed, and never will. He will see us through all of this.
Until next time, I think, therefore I have thought and I share those musings with you (Psm. 77:11-14, NASB).
Pastor Jon Hayashi