A Very Present Help in Trouble

These are my personal reflections on Psalm 46, I share them here just in case they might be helpful.

COVID – 19 has presented the world with an unprecedented health crisis. The World Health Organization has declared it to be a pandemic, as the virus has spread throughout the world. Although there are currently only 62 cases in South Africa, the number of cases will undoubtedly rise, as the UK is demonstrating.

COVID-19 has brought the world together in an unexpected way. Sports events draw the world together to celebrate achievement and success. Modern communication draws us together giving as knowledge of what is far away, even while making us feel the distance. This crisis has brought us together in our own understanding of human vulnerability and inability. Though the fatality rate appears to be low, the infection rate is high, hence its ability to spread. Over the last century, threats to the whole of the human race, nuclear war, even climate change have been at least partially under our control. However, with no vaccine, it seems that COVID-19 demonstrates our vulnerability and weakness. We seek to contain and delay, but for the moment at least, it seems we have no way of stopping it. Isolation and social distancing remind us we can only avoid but not remove it. Fear has set it, in panic buying and shortages. Where have we to hide?

The first part of our Psalm states a truth and an action. The truth is that God is our refuge:

   God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

God is our help and our refuge. “He is described as an “ever present help” which in Hebrew … means something like a help that can be found when you need it.”[1] At this time when we have been made most aware of our need, the psalmist tells us where to turn.

  Therefore we will not fear

I confess that fear is all too often my first response, for my friends, family and the community in which I minister. I may experience mild symptoms, but many I know, and love fall into the vulnerable category. And yet God is to be my refuge, I am not to fear. Does the Psalmist know what we are facing, it appears he does:

though the earth gives way,

though the mountains be moved

into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Often words like these seem distant. In the modern world, we can distance ourselves from disaster. Perhaps it is times like this when these words are more real. And yet as these words are more real, so should be the comfort God is our refuge and he is in reach now. Therefore we will not fear. We reach out to him for help and trust his hand now.

Heavenly Father,

You are our refuge; you are present in this time of trouble.

Help us Our Father.

Remind us of your presence and you care.

Your refuge and your strength.

Calm our fear, because you are one who can be trusted.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

[1] Gerald Wilson, p. 715

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