Quakes and Hurricanes
It is unusual that a state experiences both an earthquake and a hurricane in the same week. Here in Virginia, that is exactly what happened recently. These natural calamities are not new to human experience. In fact, the ancient Psalmist anticipated these very events when he wrote,
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling (Psalm 46:1-2).
The key application for our hearts in those times when even the earth below our feet and the sky above our heads become unpredictable and threatening is to say with the Psalmist, “Therefore, we will not fear.” This conclusion can only fill our minds and souls when we embrace the greater reality that “God is a refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Even though trouble surrounds us, God is always among us. God’s protection as a refuge is always around us and His provision as our strength is always within us.
Author Max Lucado wrote, “The presence of fear does not mean you have no faith. Fear visits everyone. But make your fear a visitor and not a resident. ” Trouble often tempts us to pull up a chair and welcome fear to the table of our mind. Yet, the voice of Christ, who appeared to His disciples in the storm (Mark 6:50), still calls to our hearts, “It is I; do not be afraid.” When He is the focus of our thoughts, His presence and power becomes the master of our emotions.
Our Focus in the Storm
In another Gospel storm story, the disciples were despondent in a tempest, even though Jesus was resting in their boat in that moment. Feeling that they would die, they woke Him. He responded, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Rising from His rest, He rebuked and stilled the storm. Their eyes were illumined to see that even the winds and sea obey Him (Matthew 8:23-27). Like these disciples, we are often more awed by the storm outside our boat than we are with the Christ inside our boat.
Fixing our thoughts on our Savior as a refuge and strength, present in our troubles, fuels a faith that overcomes our negative emotional responses to trouble. My former professor, Woodrow Kroll, has said, “The only known antidote to fear is faith. Fear God and you’ll have nothing else to fear.” He also noted, “With the power of God within us, we need never fear the powers around us.”
David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me” (Psalm 23:4). The writer of Hebrews underscored this same necessary faith: “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’“(Hebrews 13:5-6)
Let Go and Relax
Looking again at Psalm 46, the writer affirms in two different verses, “The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge” (46:7 & 11). The famous exhortation of this Psalm is as powerful right now, in our troubles, as it was the day it was written: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations” (v. 10). Other translations tell us to “cease striving”, “let go”, and “relax” in the deep assurance that He is God.
Today, as you might be encountering your own earthquakes or hurricanes, it is imperative to know that He is God. When the earth stops shaking and the skies return to blue, He will be exalted over the earth. Meditating on the truth of who He is really does allow us to cease our striving to handle and figure out everything in our own strength. It allows us to let go of all false sources of stability, hope, and peace. It allows us to relax, knowing that He is in the boat with us, in spite of the storm.
Reacting to the Storm
This week, all of us will encounter some difficulty that will tempt us to become overwhelmed with fear. Three simple exercises can help us when the earth trembles and the skies threaten:
- Fix your thoughts on God’s person – Throughout the Bible, we are commanded to fear and know the Lord. Fill your mind with truths about God’s unchanging and ever-steady character as you meditate on His Word.
- Focus your hope on His presence – “The Lord is with me” is the proven affirmation that has calmed the hearts and stilled the minds of saints for many millennia.
- Find your security in His power – He will be exalted. He rules over the storms and the seas. Today, His power is sufficient for you.
Martin Luther wrote, “Seeing that a pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.”
Copyright © 2011 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.