Reading Psalm 46 changed what I originally was going to post. It’s a psalm I’ve turned to time and time again during challenging times. Times of stress or anxiety or pain or lots of big, big questions.
“God is our refuge and strength,
a help always near in times of great trouble.
That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart,
when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea…” (Ps. 46:1-2 CEB)
In ancient times, people believed mountains not only kept the dry land in place, but that they also held up the sky. Mountains “crumbling” was probably considered the worst thing that could happen. In essence, it meant everything was over and the world was collapsing in as they knew it.
This makes the assertions of the psalm all the more powerful – because God is our refuge and strength, we won’t be afraid when even the mountains crumble. Is it possible to live through your absolute worst fear, and still have a bedrock of calm beneath all the shaking above?
Horrific things have happened in the last couple weeks.
While people in the south are still wading through the deluge of devastation from the hurricanes, the massacre in Las Vegas brought another tidal wave of terror. Anger. Incredulity.
And all that happens nationally and globally does not lessen the myriad of personal ways your lives or loved ones’ lives have crumbled recently. A friend completed suicide. A member of the family was sentenced to prison. Your family was newly cracked by divorce or the agreement finalized. One of the dearest people to you died, or you passed that pivotal one-year-anniversary. You had to leave the house you loved because your job relocated or the money wasn’t there anymore. You uncovered a shocking revelation about someone you loved, and you weren’t sure what to do or who to trust. The completely unexpected happened and now you have to grapple with a reality you never, ever anticipated.
Maybe your personal greatest fears actualized before your very eyes. Groans and tears became a new language. And the landscape of life is now forever changed. When a tidal wave of loss or change comes, we’re never ready.
Whatever the Psalmist had – this ability to find safety and hope in God amidst the mountains crumbling – that’s what I want. That’s what we all need.
I once read Arthur Tappan Pierson’s description of a remarkable scientific reality. There is within the ocean a layer known as the “cushion of the sea.”
“It lies far beneath the sea’s surface that is agitated by storms and churned by wind. It is so deep that it is never stirred. When the ocean floor in these deep places is dredged of the remains of plant or animal life, [this layer] reveals evidence of having remained completely undisturbed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The peace of God is an eternal calm like the cushion of the sea. It lies so deeply within the human heart that no external difficulty or disturbance can reach it.”
True peace – knowing God as our “refuge and strength” – is a sense of stability empowering us to face the deepest loss or the most difficult transition with assurance that somehow, all will be made well – different for sure, but somehow good.
If you get a chance today, take 1 minute to read Psalm 46. To be still and know….
Holder of our tears, our fears, our deepest questions,
Our hearts are raw…tender to the touch, yet again.
Our souls crack.
The mountains, the sea, are one.
And we are trying to swim amidst the rubble.
O God, when and how will this world be
what you have envisioned it to be?
We are grasping for your hand in our struggle to
respond to the violent tragedy we’ve witnessed….
a tragedy so many in our world experience on a regular basis.
We pray for Las Vegas, for our nation, for the entire world.
And even as we pray, we say,
We can’t pray about this anymore!
And even as some say it’s ‘not the time,’ we say
it has to be!
So God, please show us what is ours to do,
and give us the courage and conviction to do it.
Keep us breathing out life in a world with so much death.
Guide our feet as we try to be people of “the way” –
your way of life, and peace, compassion and hope…
Hold our hand, dear God, and steady our feet,
even as we tremble at times.
Be our cushion of the sea.