Psalm 46

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.

Psalm 46: 10-11

Are we ever still?  Do we ever stop what we are doing or do we live life at breakneck speed trying to get everything done that we think needs to be done?  How much of what we do must be done right now?  Maybe sometimes we compare ourselves with others and if we are not as busy as them we don’t feel a sense of self-worth.  Therefore we create things to do to fill up our lives and in so doing we have no time to be still.

Over these last few weeks have you had more time to yourself?  Have you felt bored, not knowing how to fill the day?  Have you tried to be still before God.

Psalm 46 verse 10 suggests that it is in stillness that we can come to know that God is God, ‘Be still and know that I am God’.   It seems that it is only when we rest from our work that we can understand who God is – that He is God.  God is working on our behalf.  Our frantic activity, on the other hand, gives us and others the impression that we are in control of our lives, that we are the god of our circumstances.

Reflection During the lockdown maybe we can take time to be still before God.  And perhaps during the stillness we can take to heart the words of Deuteronomy ch 4 v 39 ‘Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and the earth below.  There is no other’.

Psalm 46

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.

Psalm 46: 8-9

In verses 8 and 9 of Psalm 46 we are invited to look at what God is doing in the earth.  How many of us in the last few weeks have wondered what is happening in the earth? 

Where has this virus come from? Why has this dreaded illness come upon so many throughout the earth?  Why do we have to live in fear of doing the simple things we once loved – such as going to the supermarket or having coffee in a café with a friend?  Why have so many people’s lives been torn apart in such a variety of ways?  We have asked these questions and many more.

None of us have the answers to any of these questions but what we can tell from the questions is that we feel that we are entitled to live a life of peace and tranquillity, a life safe from harm, the life we had a few weeks ago.  We hope that our lives will return to normal soon.  But perhaps we will have to get used to a new normal, a life where social distancing is always with us.  Can we cope with that?

We can if we know the one who is in charge of the whole earth and Psalm 46 makes it very clear who that is. God is the one in charge.  We may think that we are in control but in reality he is; he is always the one who ‘makes wars cease’ and brings peace (verse 9). Therefore, in the midst of our frustration let us learn to trust that God knows what is happening even when we do not.  Let us trust that if we give him free reign in our lives he will enable us to cope with whatever challenges life throws at us – now and in the future.

Prayer Heavenly Father, we praise you for being in control of our whole earth.  You know us better than we know ourselves and you know all our fears.  You know all the questions that we seek answers for.  Thank you that because you are ever-present, especially in times of trouble, we can hand those fears and questions over to you trusting that you will sort them out.  Teach us to trust you to be in control even in the midst of turmoil. Amen.

Psalm 46

7The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46:7

Do you feel alone right now?  Perhaps you live alone and have had no one to talk to in your house for weeks.  Maybe you have no internet access and feel isolated because you are not able to participate in online worship services.   You have to wait for a CD of the service or a printed copy of these reflections.  Or perhaps you live with others but there just doesn’t seem to be much to talk about these days.

Loneliness seems to strike everyone at some stage of their lives.  However the enforced isolation that the coronavirus has brought has contributed to this feeling.  You can lift the phone to talk to others but you still miss the touch of another human being and the feeling of well-being that can bring.  Talking to grandkids through a window doesn’t bring the same satisfaction as being in the same room as them.  Talking to relatives in hospitals and care homes via Skype or WhatsApp or perhaps not being in contact with them at all can be heart-breaking. 

However, no matter how alone we feel, in reality we are not alone.  ‘The Lord Almighty is with us’.  We do not always feel as if he is near us but if we base our lives on the promises contained in the Bible we know that our feelings do not always correspond with the reality of our situations.   The reality is that God never leaves us.  No matter how we feel, the truth is that God is always with us.   

If we spend time reading God’s word and praying, i.e. spend time relaxing in his presence, we will learn to listen to his voice and be able to see the reality of our situation.  Yes, loneliness and isolation from others is with us, but the Lord Almighty is also with us.  Which part of that last sentence are you going to focus on today?

Prayer  Father, thank you that you are always with us and you have promised that you will never leave us nor forsake us.  At this time of enforced isolation enable us to see the truth of our situations, that we are never alone and always have you to talk to.  Help us to live in the light of reality as found in your word.  Amen.

Psalm 46

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.

Psalm 46: 4-6

Yesterday we thought about God being our refuge when nature strives to take over, ‘Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging’.  These words paint a picture of turmoil, the turmoil that many feel at this present time as they deal not just with the worries we always have but with the added fear that Covid-19 has introduced into our lives.

In contrast to the picture of upheaval in the first few verses of Psalm 46 we see in verse 4 an image of peace and calm, ‘there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God’.  The phrase peace like a river is found elsewhere in the Bible.  The Psalmist goes on to describe the city of God as the place where ‘the Most High dwells’.   The difference between the turmoil of life depicted in verses 1-3 and the peace in verse 4 is the presence of God – v5 ‘God is within her, she will not fall’. 

Therefore, at this present time we need to know that God’s presence is with us.  We can make this a reality by spending time in God’s word, reading it, meditating on it, memorising it and basing our lives on the promises found therein.  If we listen to what God is saying in his word as much as we listen to the media we will realise that God will help us – v5.  Solid ground may disappear from beneath our feet but we will be secure because God, our refuge, is always with us.

The beginning of v6 seems to describe our world exactly at the minute – ‘nations are in uproar’.  Most nations are in uproar as they endeavour to combat the effects of the coronavirus.  Never in our lifetime have we seen so many countries across the world unified in battle – the battle to give us back the lives that we want.  The one thing that we can be assured of is that God is still in charge v6 ‘he lifts his voice, the earth melts’.   All God has to do is speak and things change.  He may not speak directly to the coronavirus in the way that we want him to and we may never understand why.  Thousands in the UK have been bereaved without the opportunity to say goodbye either at the bedside or at a funeral and the reasons for this may never be clear.  Many things have changed.  However we know that God is still in charge and he is still speaking to us – ‘he lifts his voice, the earth melts’.  Let us therefore spend the next few months familiarising ourselves with the promises of God and trying to understand what he is saying to us.

Prayer Heavenly Father thank you that you are with us and that you have promised to be with us always.   In the midst of the present turmoil enable us to rest secure in your presence no matter what is happening in our lives.  Thank you that you are in control and that you are speaking to us.  Help us to hear what you are saying and to act upon what you say.  In Your Name we pray.  Amen

Psalm 46

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.

Psalm 46:1-3

Do you feel as if the rug has been pulled from under your feet and the earth has given way in these last few weeks?  

Have you lost your job? A job that was your reason for getting out of bed every day.  A job that not just paid the bills but was your source of self-worth? 

Or have your exams been cancelled?  Exams that you have worked towards for the last year or maybe even two.  How will your future prospects be decided now?

Perhaps you are not allowed to spend time with dearly loved friends or family members.   You miss the conversation and familiar hug.  Maybe you are totally isolated and your only contact with others is at the end of the telephone.

All these things and many more have been stripped away in less than a month.  All of us it seems have lost something.  So how will we cope?  Will we sink into despair as we listen daily to coronavirus updates and mourn what we have lost?  Or, will we look for answers somewhere else? 

The writer of Psalm 46 probably did not face the same problems that we have.  However, he did have troubles and he did understand what it felt like to have ‘the earth give way’.   His solution was to realise who and what God is.  He ‘is our refuge and strength’.  At this time when we have lost so much we still have a place of refuge.  We have somewhere to go when anxiety overwhelms us.  We have a place of safety when we waken during the night and cannot get the worry of what the future holds out of our minds.   We have a safe haven to go to when we listen to the death toll in our own land and throughout the world.  We turn our eyes to God, our God who is ’ever-present’ and repeat these words over and over ‘you are my refuge ‘.   He is always with us, even when we are isolated from everything and everyone. 

When we turn to God in this way we no longer need to fear anything.  When the unbelievable happens; when ‘the mountains fall into the heart of the sea’ or the life of comfort that we have been used to for so long is taken from us we do not need to live in fear.  We can still find refuge in Him. 

Now, when some of us have more time on our hands, let’s try to discover who God is.  A God who isn’t just there to keep us in the lifestyle that we have been accustomed to but instead a God who ‘is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’.

Prayer  Father we praise you for who you are.  You are our refuge and strength.  We thank you that at all times we can take refuge in you.  Help us to look to you for refuge not just in times of trouble but at all times because you are always with us.   In these anxious times please be our place of peace and safety.  Enable us to turn aside from all that preoccupies us and instead turn our thoughts towards you.  Amen

Other reflections from Moneydig Presbyterian Church

By Julia Morrow