God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea… Psalm 46:1-2 (NIV)
Over the past several days my mind has repeatedly been drawn to Psalm 46. As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to build, as the jobless numbers climb, as 401k accounts shrink and as we become increasingly isolated, fear is a very natural response. And yet, the Psalmist declares boldly that because God is our refuge and strength, even if the earth gives way we will not fear.
Fear is an incredibly powerful force. One doctor observed that “fear is the most devastating enemy of the human personality.” I think he’s right. Fear paralyzes us, making it impossible for us to think clearly and behave rationally.
And it’s not just fear of contracting COVID-19, or worse yet, someone I love contracting it. It’s fear of losing income, fear for family members, fear of isolation, even fear that my church might not survive. So, what’s the key to overcoming fear, even fear in a worldwide pandemic? Look toward the end of the Psalm in verse 10: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Be still? We’re all familiar with the phrase, “Don’t just stand there, do something!” A missionary named Don Seymour reversed it; “Don’t just do something, stand there!” That’s kind of the idea behind the Psalmist’s counsel to be still.
When confronted by fear conventional wisdom says, “Sleep less, try harder, do more.” But God says, “Be still.” Being still has kind of been forced on us, hasn’t it? That’s not all bad if we use the stillness to know God. The benefit of being still is found in verse 11 of the Psalm; “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
It’s interesting that when I’m rushing about, consumed with fear and worry, I lose all awareness of the fact that the LORD Almighty is with me and I start to believe that I have to fix things myself. But when I am still before the Lord, I am reminded that the God of Jacob is my fortress. It’s not the economy, not medical science, and certainly not my efforts that keep me safe. It’s the God of Jacob.
An old man was out walking with his grandson. “How far are we from home?” he asked. “I don’t know,” answered the boy. “Well, where are we?” he asked. Again came the answer, “I don’t know.” “Sounds to me like you’re lost,” said Granddad. Quickly the boy replied, “I can’t be lost. I’m with you.”
Be still. The Lord Almighty is with us. We can’t be lost.