Our Present Troubles and Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.
Yesterday morning our pastor preached to an online audience only. It seems unbelievable to me that our present trouble in the world, the Coronavirus, has caused such chaos and fear, and I might add confusion and anger. Schools, restaurants, and bars are closing and most activities have been canceled. You can't get toilet paper anywhere, and food is going fast. Social distancing is the word for the next fifteen days.
When the virus first was reported in the media, I was told that I should stock up on toilet paper because that would be the first thing to go. So I did. Not because I envisioned the pandemonium coming to my hometown, but because I trusted my source. Honestly, when I saw the chaos firsthand at the store I work at a few days ago, I was flabbergasted. Then I was angry at the media for stoking fear and driving the narrative that was causing people to run out and buy everything. It was and is my understanding that the Corona Virus is not as bad as it has been made out to be; that we have more cases of and deaths from the flu every year, even with a flu vaccine. But here we are...our lives have all been affected. Now I'm being told the reason is that it is highly contagious. And we want to do it right this time. Personally, I haven't met anyone with the virus nor have I talked to anyone who is afraid of getting it, but I have talked to lots of people who are confused at the reaction of others, angry that their lives have been disrupted, or fearful that things will not go back to normal. And I hear all kinds of stories of what people think is going on. How does one know what to believe?
As Christ-followers, we must not lose sight of God. He knows the truth. He is in control now and always. This virus and the response of the people has not taken Him by surprise. I knew I had to take my anger to the Lord. I had to repent and ask God to replace my anger with compassion and understanding. I want to be a light in this world instead of adding to the problem. I want to be one that calms a situation and brings hope to others. I am a work in progress. Today I heard the President say the media was doing a good job, so that is another thing I need to adjust my thinking on.
So what can we do? I have a friend who's daughter is home from college on Spring Break. She is opening a daycare in her basement. My church is setting up online prayer after our pastor gives an encouraging devotion each evening for the next twenty days. Another friend was out buying bedding for a group that is going to be quarantined inside a building. Someone else is purposefully speaking words of hope and letting people know that God is in control. We all can be praying. None of us should be fearing this virus or what's going on in the world.
What does Psalm 46 tell us?
God is our refuge and strength; He's always ready to help us in times of trouble (v. 1), like the Coronavirus outbreak. The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe (Prov 18:10).
We will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea (v. 2-3); or the Coronavirus comes into our city. Why? Because God is our refuge and strength. We don't have a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7). The idea is no matter what happens, we will not be afraid.
A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed (v. 4-5), giving us the picture of God's presence and a sense of peace and security. Wherever God's presence is, we can rest in His protective covering. If you are a Christian, the Spirit of God lives inside you; His presence is right there.
The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God's voice thunders, and the earth melts! The Lord of Heaven's Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress (v. 6-7). Even though the Coronavirus is causing chaos in the nations, we know God is in control. When He decides to put an end to the virus, it will happen. In the meantime, He will keep you safe for He is your fortress. I don't necessarily think that means you can't get the virus but it does mean you don't have to fear it. Take the proper precautions and trust God.
Come and see the glorious works of the Lord; see how he brings destruction upon the world (v. 8-9). God is bigger than the Coronavirus. Trust and ask Him to destroy what needs to be destroyed. Be on the lookout for His glorious works in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty. Our pastor told a story of a mom who would ask her children each night where they met God that day and then she would tell them where she met God. Sometimes we meet God when we see Him in creation, other times He brings someone into our lives to encourage us or for us to encourage. Sometimes we might see God give us what we prayed for or we have the opportunity to tell someone about Jesus. Every day God is working; we just need to be looking. Even in the midst of this virus, God is working!
Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. The Lord of Heaven's Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress (v. 10-11). Did you know that there is an army in the spiritual realm? Remember the story of Elisha and his servant? The servant couldn't see the invisible army that Elisha saw until Elisha asked God to open the servant's eyes to see it. And when the servant saw the vast army, instantly his fear was gone. The Lord of Heaven's armies is still here among us. He still fights for us, and He tells us to be still and know that He is God. One day, everyone will know who the Lord is. When Jesus returns, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil 2:10-11). Today, God is the Lord of Heaven's Armies and He is able to do more than we can comprehend. But keep in mind, everything God does is right (Ps 145:17) and His ways are not our ways (Is 55:8). We must trust Him.
Sunday, we sang the song, Waymaker, by Michael W. Smith and I want to write a few of the lines that are good for us to remember of right now:
Light in the Darkness
My God, that is who You are
Even when I don't see it, You're working
Even when I can't feel it, You're working
You never stop, You never stop working
You never stop, You never stop working