Clarity in the Midst of Calamity

The last few months have seemed unprecedented. Natural disasters continue to pummel our nation and upend other places around the globe. The tragedies incited by evil and deranged people certainly seem to be getting worse. The chances that you know someone who has been devastated by the disruption of this present age are increasing.

We live in a fallen, fragile, and fractured world. Nothing in this life is ultimately stable or reliable – not our economy, not the rulers of nations, not even the earth under our feet. In Mark 13:7-8, Jesus describes these times as the “beginning of sorrows” when nations rise against nations, earthquakes abound, and the world is full of famines and troubles. He speaks of the hatred of the world toward Christ-followers and extraordinary family strife. False teaching will proliferate. Jesus assures us, “Do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet…the gospel must first be preached to all the nations” (Mark 13:7 &10).

Our Determination in the Midst of Disaster

Even back in the Psalms, we see the description of worst-case scenarios when the “mountains are carried into the midst of the sea.” It describes times when “the waters roar” and are “troubled” and the hills are shaken by violence (Psalm 46:2). In light of these natural disasters inflicting this temporary and troubled earth, how should we respond? What is our recourse? How can we cope?

Here are five perspectives from Psalm 46.

God’s presence is our ultimate help and joy

This Psalm begins with the promise, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though….” How would you finish that thought? No matter what we face and regardless of the frailty of this present world, God’s “very present” help provides a refuge and gives strength to our souls, dispelling our fears regardless of the troubles we face.

God’s “very present” help provides a refuge and gives strength to our souls, dispelling our fears regardless of the troubles we face.

The Psalm further encourages us, “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.” This picture of a river infusing the city of God with gladness, security, and provision assures us that His presence will flood the “tabernacle” of our hearts just when we need it – even in a worst-case scenario. Supernatural joy that transcends our circumstances and intellect can stabilize and help us in practical ways, just when we need it.

Supernatural joy that transcends our circumstances and intellect can stabilize and help us in practical ways, just when we need it.

God’s sovereignty is our ultimate assurance

This Lord, who is so present in our troubles and so sufficient for our souls, is all-powerful. The Psalmist explains, “The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. 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 chariot in the fire.” Whether we understand the purpose behind present disasters or not, some things are clear: God’s power melts the earth. He can stop wars and armies. He rules in sovereign power.

There are times when I am not able to subject God’s sovereignty and power to my limited and feeble sense of justice. I do not fathom the purpose behind the catastrophes of the times, but I know the One who controls the times. Choosing to trust Him with a whole heart, in spite of my narrow understanding, brings reassurance and trust as I try to make sense of the trajectory of this precarious world.

God’s glory is our ultimate ambition

We come to the most familiar verse from the Psalm, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The marginal notes also describe this passage with these synonymous ideas: “Cease striving,” “Let go,” or “Relax.” In our tendency to worry, to manipulate, to seek to control the circumstances of life – we must recognize that He will ultimately be exalted over and by His creation. A passion for His supreme glory empowers us to experience an abiding peace and rest.

A passion for His supreme glory empowers us to experience an abiding peace and rest.

God’s character is our ultimate security

One phrase is repeated twice in this Psalm: “The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge” (vv. 7 & 11). Our God is the master over all created agencies and forces. He created, maintains, and rules over creation in great power. He is the “Strong Tower” available to His children when we fail and are powerless. When we are completely inadequate with no other help, the LORD of the armies of heaven and earth is our comfort and confidence. Why? He is WITH US. His presence cannot be lessened or loosened by tragedy. He is our REFUGE. Nothing else in life is sure. Even in the worst-case scenario, He is still, and always will be, the Lord of Hosts.

His presence cannot be lessened or loosened by tragedy. He is our REFUGE. Nothing else in life is sure.

Copyright © 2017 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.