I don’t usually tie the content of my posts in with current events. Today I am going to make an exception. Yesterday my country voted to leave the European Union. Yesterday my vote was cast for a losing cause. Today I woke up concerned about what had happened overnight. There was a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, a sense that we had made a terrible mistake. Today I have wandered around in a semi-shocked state asking whether that result really did happen. Today I have taken great comfort from Psalm 46
The Psalm opens with a statement that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’ (v1). My country has been troubled today. Deep rifts between people have opened up and been exposed by the referendum campaigns. Divisions between different generations, classes, educational backgrounds, ethnicities and regions of the country have come to the fore. These divisions have been emphasised and used as a way of harnessing votes and as a result have increased the perceived size of these divisions. The result 48%v52% reflects a country split almost in half. There is no doubt we are a troubled nation today.
The shockwaves of the referendum result were almost immediate. Huge volatility on our stockmarket wiped vast amounts off the value of companies. An historic drop in the value of our currency has shaken the financial foundations of the country. And worse could follow. How hard it is to cling on to, but verse 2 states that we have no need to fear even though the earth gives way and even though formerly secure things like mountains now move. The reason is because our God is present to help. Our God is near.
It feels like my nation has for weeks raged as politicians have argued with claim and counterclaim, escalating their rhetoric into a frenzy and casting visions of fear and disaster for any who would vote for the opposing position. Today it feels like my country has tottered as our prime minister has resigned and the political manoeuvring by those wanting to attain power has been brought into the open. But today the psalmist reminds me that seeing ‘nations rage and kingdoms totter’ (v6) simply must cause me to look to the Lord of hosts who is with us and is our fortress (v7).
In the midst of trouble, turmoil and national uncertainty Psalm 46 reminds us of two certainties. Firstly, ‘there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God’ (v4). This river refreshes. This river renews. This river brings life. This river brings hope. This river brings gladness. This river signifies the presence of God (v5). God is in the middle of the city and therefore the city is immovable. Though all around may totter and fall, those who build upon the security of the Rock shall not be moved. And there is a promise of morning dawn for those who are currently living in the night.
And secondly, there will be an end to the machinations and scheming of man. Wars will cease. Weapons will be laid down. All people will one day recognise that He is God. He will be exalted – among all the nations and across all the earth (vv9,10).
So although today I feel that times of trouble have arrived and fear has been quick to knock on the door of my heart, I know that now is the time for me to ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (v10). I must look to Him, my refuge and strength, and very present help in trouble.