Last week was horrible. It began with the horrific shooting in a church in Sutherland Springs TX and ended with a number of dear friends facing a variety of serious personal difficulties. What can we be sure of when life is so uncertain?
When an angry and wicked man entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX, and then began shooting, he quickly became infamous for the worst mass shooting in Texas history and the worst carnage in a church in US History. By the end of the week, I was told of a number of my dear friends who were facing difficulties: one was facing a cancer diagnosis, another had a baby born with a serious birth defect, another got a pink slip from a job he had held for many years. Obviously, mass murder and these challenges are not parallel. But they have the same effect in many cases—a sense of doom and loss; pain and anguish; and of course, fear of the future. Most of the time, when faced with these issues, people ask me, “Why? Why does God allow this?” But that’s not the question I want to answer. I want to address the question of “What?” When tragedy strikes or when a crisis erupts, what can we be sure of? Of what can we be certain in the storms of life? Psalm 46 provides three absolutes for followers of Jesus, three truths upon which we can rely.
Here is the first. In the storms of life, we can be certain of God’s protection. The first three verses of Psalm 46 read : 1God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. 2Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, 3though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil.” In the earthquakes of life, times of trouble when the mountains seem to be crashing into the bottom of the sea, Psalm 46 reminds us that the Lord remains our refuge and strength. It is in our relationship with Him that we find safety and security. Proverbs 18:10 says “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.” Even when we lose loved ones or face some sort of health crisis or have a tragedy with one of our kids or if we lose a job, it is the Lord who will always be there, providing protection for us, if we’ll run to Him.
Second, in the storms of life, we can be certain of God’s presence. Verses 4-7 depict a crisis in the city of Jerusalem as it is besieged by enemies, looking to destroy the city. Here’s what the Psalmist says: “4There is a river—its streams delight the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High. 5God is within her; she will not be toppled. God will help her when the morning dawns. 6Nations rage, kingdoms topple; the earth melts when He lifts His voice. 7The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.” There is peace in the midst of all this turmoil, not because the crisis is gone, but because the Lord is present in the storm. In the same way, in the middle of our personal earthquakes, we can have peace because of God’s presence. Sometimes, though, it is only afterwards that we see that God was always with us—as the Psalmist says, it becomes clear “When morning dawns.”
I love the scene in the book, The Horse and His Boy from The Chronicles of Narnia when a young orphan named Shasta feels that every bad misfortune possible has fallen upon him and from the darkness of the fog, Aslan explains: “I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice. “Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta. “There was only one lion.” said the Voice. “What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two lions the first night, and -” “There was only one, but he was swift of foot.” “How do you know?” “I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you as you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.” Aslan was always with Shasta, just as the Lord Jesus is always with us. Sometimes we don’t learn what His presence meant for us until afterwards, but He is there, working all things for our good. So we can be confident and peaceful in the midst of the storm.
Here is the third truth of which we can be sure: In the storms of life, we can be certain of God’s power. Listen to Psalm 46:8-11: 8Come, see the works of the Lord, who brings devastation on the earth. 9He makes wars cease throughout the earth. He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; He burns up the chariots. 10“Stop your striving—and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” 11The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.” The psalmist reminds us that God is powerful, even more powerful than the earthquakes. In fact, He is the one who makes the earthquakes. He can overrule enemies besieging a city and bring peace. In the same way, He can bring the storms to an end or empower us to endure the earthquakes. Therefore, we can stop striving, and trust Him.
More than anything, Psalm 46 says this to followers of the Lord Jesus: When facing the earthquakes of life, the Lord alone is our stability. We can be secure in the storm, because God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.