Too often in Christian circles it’s taught that if you have faith, pray and obey, God will take away your problems. If you are worried, give those worries to God and he will solve them. If you’re going through a challenging time, God will fix it. Things typically don’t work out this cleanly in real life, often leaving people wondering what they did wrong, or why God abandoned them. Thankfully the Bible tells a different story.
A first look glance at Psalm 46 highlights several verses that on their own, seem like the kind of “God will fix it” platitudes given to a person who is anxious, depressed, or going through a big time trial. Take verse 1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” If he’s an ever-present help in trouble, and he’s all-powerful and all-loving, then of course he will take our trouble away, right? A narcissistic culture addicted to comfort certainly would tell you so. But look at the very next verses: 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.
Can you imagine the earth giving way? I picture massive chunks of a cliff careening down a gully, or the earth beneath our feet violently ripping apart from itself, forming a huge crack on what was once solid ground. How terrifying!
Can you picture mountains falling into the heart of the sea? The Rocky Mountains…gone. Obliterated. The trauma in this.
Can you picture the waters of the sea roaring and foaming…the spray…the current…the darkness…the power to destroy?
Now think about your darkest trials and the pain, anxiety and depression that come along with them.
My point is, the Bible is very clear here that the things troubling you aren’t going away. But it offers something even more powerful: in the midst of everything you are worried about and that is getting you down, God is your refuge and strength. He is with you, no matter what comes your way. It’s like being in an impenetrable bomb shelter in the midst of a nuclear war. In the midst of falling mountains and raging seas, there’s a peaceful river, a place where God dwells. I can imagine floating down this tranquil river on an inner tube while everything else around is falling apart. If I have God, I have all I need.
A famous verse in this Psalm is verse 10, Be still and know that I am God. It’s important to note that this incredible comfort is given in the midst of a brutal war zone with a side order of natural disaster. Yet we can be still and rest in the fortress that is our God. This must be some God!
Platitudes fall flat. I especially hate it when people tell me if I had more faith, my problems would go away. I do need more faith, that’s for sure. But it’s faith in a God who is my fortress in the midst of all my problems! A fortress I can rest in, rejoice in, and cast all my cares upon, knowing He has already won the victory (He will be exalted among the nations and the earth you know…). He’s not a God who promises to lavish me with comfort, He promises to BE MY COMFORT.
Like the most famous Psalm in the Bible says, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
If you’re in that valley, you’re in good company.
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.
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.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
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.
10 He says, “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.
Host of the The Flip Side Podcast
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