Thursday, January 31, 2013

"A Mighty Fortress is our God"


              My husband and I find ourselves in the midst of a trial once again. I am reminded of something a pastor of mine once said, “You are either in a trial, coming out of a trial, or headed into a trial.” That seems to be true for most of us. As I was praying this morning, asking the Lord for strength and for help, I was reminded of Psalm 46. The psalmist encourages us that no matter what may happen, God is our refuge and our strength.
                “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1. This trial that we are facing is one that is daunting, it looms over us, not only with the thought of what may happen, but the unknowing, the waiting to know for sure one way or the other what is going to happen. The Lord says to us, in the midst of our trials, “I am your refuge and your strength, a very present help in trouble.” He says to us that He is who we should flee to, and that He will be found by us when we run to Him. He will be present in the midst of all that we are facing. He has it in complete control. Not only is He our refuge, our place of hiding, but He is ready to help us when we come to Him.
                “Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though its mountains shake with its swelling.” Psalm 46:2-3. Even though the stability that we are now enjoying may be ripped out from under us, and the mountains we have used for shelter be carried away into the sea leaving us open and vulnerable, God is not moved. He is standing, even though everything around us is falling. God is still there, in all His strength and power, He is our help, and our refuge.
                “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.” Psalm 46:4-5. The river is the constant flow of God’s presence and help into our lives. When we are faced with trials and troubles, the presence of God is flowing freely from His heart to ours. We can rejoice and be glad in the midst of trials because we have confidence in His mighty power. It pleases His heart when we make Him our refuge, and it opens the flood gates of heaven, allowing the power of God to work freely in our lives. Even when the darkness seems unbearable, we can be confident that the morning shall come, and as the sun rises over the horizon, so does our God, our deliverer.
                God is our protector and our defender. He is the Captain of the army which fights on our behalf. When the Psalmist wrote “just at the break of dawn,” he was referring to a military campaign, which would commence fighting as the sun came up. God will fight for us; He will descend from His holy tabernacle and fight for us. We can take confidence and comfort in this, while the waters are raging and the mountains are shaking. God is present, and He is our help.
                “The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.” Psalm 46:6. By the Word of the Lord the heavens and earth were formed, and by His voice only will our trials and tribulations cease. God does not promise to deliver us out of the trials, He promises to fight and to defend us in the midst of them. When all hope seems lost, we can look up to the hills, for our help comes from the heavens above us, and we will see the glory of the Lord fighting on our behalf. For with the sound of a trumpet He shall descend and we shall forever be in His presence, the battle is won, and the victor is our God.
                “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots in the fire.” Psalm 46:7-9. Notice, it does not say “we or us” but the psalmist clearly says, “HE”. Who is He? Christ Jesus. He alone will cause all to cease. As He stood upon the waters and commanded the winds and the storm to cease, so He will also in our lives command the storm to cease. He alone will deliver us, there is no other. It is not in our power that we can make it end; it is God alone, in Him whom we have made our refuge.
                “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted on the earth.” Psalm 46:10. To be still means that we relax, we stop trying to make it happen on our own, and we just sink down into His presence, into the refuge of His loving embrace. He gathers us under the shadow of His wings, and with His strong might He will fight for us. No matter what is going on around us, He is there, calling to us to sit quietly under His protection and watch and see His glory. He alone can and will deliver us. We need to let go of all our attempts to help, our plan A and our plan B, and be confident in the God whom we have made our refuge and help.
                “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” Psalm 46:11. He is the Commander and Chief of the heavenly armies, and He is commanding them to fight for you. He sends His angels to keep you while He brings deliverance by the Word of His mouth. For our God is a mighty God, a Warrior, showing Himself mighty on our behalf. All He asks of us when the trials and storms of life come crashing in upon us, is to “Be still, and know that He is God.” In Him we can have confidence, even when all we know may be ripped out from under us. He has never failed us, and He never will. In Him alone may we find refuge and peace, no matter what may come our way.
                To God alone be glory forever and ever, in Jesus Christ our Lord, our very present help in times of trouble. Amen and Amen.
*This psalm inspired Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God”. If you have some extra time today, please follow the link below and read it. May it encourage you to make the Lord Jesus Christ your refuge.
http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh262.htm