God Is Our Refuge

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Psalm 46 – [1] God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. [2] Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, [3] though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. [4] There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. [5] God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. [6] The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. [7] The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. [8] Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. [9] He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. [10] “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 of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (ESV)

Have you ever found yourself in a difficult season of life and asked, “where is God?” In the midst of times like these, it can sometimes feel as if God is altogether absent. Maybe you have lost a loved one and can’t understand why they were taken from you. Maybe you have prayed for something good, but a hope deferred has made your heart sick (Prov 13:12). You may feel that no matter how many times you seek to share the gospel with an unbelieving family member or friend, all you get in return is indifference or hostility. In all of these circumstances, we can look around and wonder if God even cares. Yet it is in just these kinds of situations that Psalm 46 can remind us of what is true.

The Psalmist describes God in verse one as a refuge, a strength, and a help. The combination of these ideas provides a powerful picture for those in distress. As a refuge, God is able to shelter those weathering the storm. The Psalmist expresses confidence and safety as the world itself seems to come undone (46:2-3) and as the people of the earth seek to undo it (46:6). While everything seems opposite of what would naturally bring us comfort, refuge in God can cause us to dwell more secure than anywhere else.

More than a refuge, God is a strength for his people. There is little we can ultimately do to control our circumstances. But from Genesis to Revelation, we see that our God is a God of power and strength. Who else can speak and creation simply exists? Who else set the boundaries of the oceans? Who has created galaxies billions of light-years away from where you sit right now and knows them all just as intimately as he knows this world? The God of the Bible is a God of incalculable power. And the Psalmist tells us that God is for his people. At the utterance of his voice the earth melts (46:6). The Apostle Paul tells the Thessalonians that at the very breath of the Lord Jesus Christ the lawless one will be defeated (2 Thess 2:8). It takes no more than a word for God to accomplish his sovereign purposes. No matter how weak you feel, God is strong enough.

Yet, according to the Psalmist, God is also a help. This shows that God is not simply passive in this whole process. He is not like an abandoned house we can crawl into to get out of inclement weather. He is actively working for the good of his people. This is confirmed by his nearness. The opening of the Psalm says that he is a “very present help in trouble.” As the believer endures hardship, they can trust that God is not far off. Rather, he is with them every step of the way. What a comfort it is to know that the God of all creation cares enough for you to be present. To make all this possible, God the Father sent his Son to die in the place of sinful men and women, so that we could be reconciled to himself. Those who have trusted in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, turning away from their sins, can have this confidence. God drew near us so that we may draw near to him.

In all of this, we can be assured that God’s name will be exalted in all the earth (Ps 46:10). This Psalm is a comforting reminder that God is present with his people for his glory. Regardless of what is going on in your life, this Psalm invites you to dwell, not on the circumstances, but on the strong savior.

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