Can you think back to a recent time when you have felt like life is just overwhelming? What do you do when life feels like it's falling apart? What's your first thought? What's the first thing you do?
In Psalm 46, the psalmist gives us a great song that provides us with great encouragement when facing the times when we feel that life is falling apart.
The psalmist says that our God "is our refuge and strength, but more than that, he isn't abstract. He is our "very present help in trouble." God gives us his presence. Not too long ago, I was given the question: What does it mean to have God's grace?" The answer was that God's grace to his people is his very presence. In Christ, we have the presence of God with us. To the point that even if the world were to explode, our God is our refuge. There is confidence for you and me. Our God has covenanted, promised himself, to his people and is their might fortress and bulwark. He comes to our aid in times of trouble, so that even earthquakes and landslide cannot take us out of his hand. Teaches God's people not to fear, even if the world collapses. For whom share we fear, even "though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling."
Look around you today. Read the news. Talk with your friends. For those who aren't in Christ, they can't claim this. However, if you have repented and believed the gospel, that Christ has died for your sins and rose again, this is your God. He is your refuge. He is your strength. He is with you in the midst of all the trouble that life brings. We can have confidence in God, even in the cosmic collapse. He is present with us.
Even amid political turmoil, God is our fortress. As the people looked to God, they would feel secure. Even though the nations would rage around them, they knew that God was their fortress. The people had a trust that was shown in faithful obedience. When we look at our political system and put our hope in a government, we will always be shaken. But God is a fortress who will help his people and cause them not to be moved. He will be the one who sustains his people "like a river who's streams make glad the city of God." Like a secret aqueduct to a besieged city, God's grace convinces the psalmist that the church will not only survive any onslaught but also will thrive in joy.
The Lord of Host is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. The Lord of all the heavenly forces, from the sun, moon, stars, or angels, God is Lord of them all. He is the omnipotent God over all things. It is he who will be his people's fortress. In a world of political turmoil, we have a God who will be our fortress because God has chosen to dwell with his people. He will protect his people during the hardest circumstances.
As we reflect on God's presence, we have a call to rest in and hope for God to do something. For those in Christ, we have been called to "be still, and know that I am God." In the right knowledge of God and his deliverance, there is peace. This is the opposite of what the "nations" have. In Christ, we have salvation. This psalm asks us to change our prayer from a change of circumstance to a change of perspective. In this life, we may have hardships, but in Christ, we will have deliverance because of what Christ has done for us that we hope. Even in "wars and rumors of wars" (Matt. 24:6), both Old and New Testament believers are buttressed with the confidence that all the kingdoms of this world will one day become the "kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever" (Rev. 11:15), it's in this that God fulfils his covenant promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3). Keeping our eyes on King Jesus, we must courageously witness for Christ to the ends of the earth (cf. Ps. 46:9) until the nations are given to Christ as his inheritance (2:7; Acts 1:8; 2:34–35).
Did you catch the outcomes of the presence of God in verse 11? God says, "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" As a gathered church, we seek to be faithful disciples who make disciples of Jesus Christ. This is the command. Even in this Psalm, God's presence pushes us out to exalt among the nations the greatness of our God. We don't just have God's presence when he calls us to himself, but he sends us out to be part of his mission as we live for him and spread his Word. You and I don't get to set and just experience. We are active in God's mission to live for him and spread his Word. This is who God is exalted among the nations. We live in a world that is not able to be still. To rest. To know peace. To know God. We are called to go out and proclaim from the mountaintops the goodness of our God. Because the people of God have God's presence, they can confidently say along with the psalmist: "The Lord of host is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."
So what do we do when life seems to be falling apart? Psalms like this remind us that in our times of trouble, we first run to the God who is our refuge and strength. In 2 Timothy 1:7, the Apostle Paul tells us "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." In Christ, we don't have a spirit of fear because we have the very presence of God with us. We have Immanuel. God with us. Jesus is the personification of this psalm. For Jesus himself is our very present refuge and future victory. God's past record of strong protection for his people is a present comfort to the psalmist. Even if the unthinkable were to happen - even if the earth was to explode - God's faithfulness to his promises drives away fear. Matthew 28:20 tells us that the Christian's confidence is even more certain because Jesus personally promised to be with us to the "end of the age".
We live in a world and a time full of certainty, so for us, this is still a very relevant song. If you are in Christ, you have the ever-present help in trouble. When life seems to be falling apart, cling to the Christ, our solid foundation.
A hymn that I love is A Mighty Fortress is our God. Martin Luther was moved by this psalm to write the famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" from Psalm 46. Check out this Matt Boswell's version of this great old hymn of the faith. May this song remind you of the richness of Psalm 46.