“The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:7;11).
The events in the past few weeks have made many people anxious. On Easter Sunday, suicide bombers in Sri Lanka blew themselves up at eight different sites. They slaughtered more than 250 unsuspecting people in churches and hotels and shattered the already fragile peace in this country. Two days later, skyscrapers in Metro Manila swayed, rocked by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake. Buildings collapsed and people panicked. Sixteen people lost their lives.
But these are not the only turmoil that shook the world. Remember the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that wiped out $100b in Japan and caused a meltdown in the Fukushima nuclear powerplant? Or the 2004 Indian ocean tsunami that took away more than 200,000 people in Aceh alone? But the horrors don’t stop there.
In Syria, the war against terrorism rages on. In Yemen, Sudan and Libya, their leaders were denounced or removed. In North Korea, the threat of a nuclear confrontation is ever so real. In India or in Indonesia, the people anxiously wait for the results of their recent elections. Around the world, we have businesses closing down, people who are retrenched, many more who are uncertain if their jobs will be still there tomorrow.
We live in troubled times, colored not by peace, but by the pain of chaos.
Whether our troubles are economic, political or natural, we try to make sense of it. We grapple with the loss of lives and property, and more significantly, the loss of hope. We fear and tremble. To get rid of our fears, we turn to therapies, strategies, and even philosophies. But as is so often the case, they treat just the symptoms. These anthropocentric approaches are superficial and short-lived, and they do not meet the deepest needs of the heart. In times of economic, political, or natural troubles, what should our response be? What should we do when bad things happen to us? How should we respond in a world that is collapsing?
This is where I turn our attention to Psalm 46. This song offers us a glimpse of hope in a hostile world. Psalm 46 calls us to a decision, a choice between exercising our independence with our own strength, or to live in dependence upon God.
Psalm 46 has three distinct scenes: natural disasters (vv.1-3), threats of war (vv.4-7), and the aftermath of war (vv. 8-11). Proper responses to such chaos and calamities are found in each scene. When natural calamities catch us by surprise (vv. 1-3), we will not fear (v. 2). When our own country is being attacked by enemies (vv. 4-7), we will not be moved (v. 5). When battles rage and the world around us seem to cry out for bloodshed (vv. 8-10), we are commanded to “be still” (v. 10).
And how can we find such supernatural strength in such unnatural circumstances? The psalmist reminds us twice in the refrain, “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (vv. 7; 11). God always keeps His promises and always delivers, on His terms and in His time.
For the psalmist, it is a promise that God will be with him. But for us today, this promise is found in our Immanuel, Jesus Christ. As the whole world reels from the earthquakes and tsunamis, as the Chinese frigates sail across the South China seas, as the bullets hit innocent young children caught in war zones, as the flames ravage the Notre Dame in Paris and as a jobless father roams in streets looking for a job, Jesus the Christ said “I am with you, I am always with you, till the end of ages”.
That is why we can cease striving and be still, for He is God.
Grace and peace