My Stronghold

As part of my devotional time, I am reading a book by Tim Keller called, “The Songs of Jesus.” It is a year-long devotional that goes through the Book of Psalms. As I was skimming through it, I stopped at the pages of April 6th and 7th and gave them a read. I stopped there because of that date, the 7th, is my late father’s birthday. In the book, Keller shares some thoughts based on Psalm 46. The psalmist points out some valuable truths we all need to hold on to in difficult times. He writes that “God is my refuge, strength, and an ever-present help in trouble.”

These truths about God tell me that I do not need to fear no matter what calamity is in front of me. Even if the things I take security in, such as my abilities and competence, my health, or my job “give way,” I do not need to fear because of who God is, remains true and prevails.

The first thing we find in this Psalm is that God is our protector. The psalmist talks about the city of God (vv.4-7) and how it cannot be destroyed because He is in it and protects it. In other places in the Bible, we see God also dwells in each believer. 1 Corinthians 3:16 we are God’s temple and His Holy Spirit dwells in us. No matter what we face, I can take comfort that God shall protect me because He dwells in me too.

For a small child, their mother’s voice is one of the most soothing things they can hear. As Christians, God’s voice transcends our troubles. Verse 6 describes things that we often assume to be secure, but end up falling apart and becoming out of our control. In our world today, we experience the same thing – nations in chaos and instability. Even in midst of these kinds of catastrophic events, God’s voice can override and transcend them all. His voice rises above the din of chaos and helps us to focus on eternity and God’s love rather than the pain around us. Now we know that God can end wars as He pleases and can bring about the end to any earthly weapon. God’s sovereignty is plain to see in these examples and therefore His sovereignty extends into any trial in my life too.

Verse 11 says, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. This shows us that God is both presents with His people and provides protection against any foe. In Joni Erikson Tada’s book, “A Place of Healing,” she describes how God led her to depend on Him in a deeper way as her pain increased in her battle with cancer.  She says sometimes we can have a view of God as only gentle and meek. She says that in our trials we need to rely on someone who is stronger than anything we may face. That person is Jesus who promises and provides comfort through pain and can lead us in our battles.

One of the things we often underestimate is the power of heaven’s armies possess. What does this kind of army look like?  It must be the most awesome and powerful force that can be imagined!  If God, the Lord of heaven’s armies, is among us, then there is no situation or calamity or uncertainty that God cannot control and intervene in.

The psalmist concludes in verse 10 with “Be still and know that I am God!” Knowing that He is all-powerful, there is a peace that should be ours. This is a logical conclusion! Because of these attributes of God, I can truly be still and trust in the Lord. Being still before God is not a fanciful idea or wishful thinking because it is anchored on who God is.

For myself, my life doesn’t have any calamities on the scale of a world ending level. But if I allow them, my fears can spiral out of control and it can feel like “the end of the world” for me. In the last couple years, I have had to face some health issues including diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure. Sometimes these issues can lead to uncertainty and become an entity unto themselves.   Recently my fears about my health and uncertainty about my future have taken a life of its own.  There were times where they grew to master my heart and my mind. These fears caused me to become self-focused, unloving, and to the point where there seemed to be no room in my heart for anyone else. They caused me to ignore God’s command to love Him with all my heart and to love others as myself because I was so preoccupied with my fears.

Psalm 46 showed me that the answer to my fears lie in God Himself and truths about who He is. Although I knew God never changes no matter what I face, I allowed my situation to compromise those truths.  As verse 2 reminds us, there is no need to fear because of who God is. Practically speaking, this means I need to proactively remind myself about God’s promises and truths about His character, His heart, and my security. When my fears seize me, I need to hear God’s voice most of all. His voice of truth transcends and thunders louder than the voice of my fears.

I think each of us who go through struggles needs to understand that there is no other solution except God. A practical solution may alleviate my circumstance temporarily, but fears can still reign in my mind. When I see who God is, the One who is the Lord of heaven’s armies can march in and slay all the pessimistic thoughts and faulty assessments that I have fallen for. I need to immerse myself in His Word and read passages like Matt 6:25-34 to remind me not to worry.  Conversely, I need to not focus on my fears and keep my heart and mind on Him.

Matthew 6:22-23 says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”  This speaks to how our fears can grow extremely dark and consuming if we focus on our fears instead of focusing on God. Once God’s truth drives out our fears, then I can be still before God and have room to love God and others.

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