A very present help in trouble.
God IS our refuge and strength. This is a present tense statement. God wasn't our refuge and strength and then somehow, right now, has ceased to be; He is also not our refuge and strength now and then won't be in the future. God has been, is, and will be our refuge and strength. He eternally has been, and He eternally will be a very present help in trouble. So many times in my walk, when I come face to face with a trial or test, my mind instantly does something like this: "Well, God has brought me through a lot, but I don't know about this one. Seems like it is just too big to face. Why me? I mean, I know that You were there through all my past stuff, but this is just too much." However, the reality is: He did bring me through all my past stuff because He is ever present with me. He is my refuge and my strength. He has brought me through things in days that seemed like it would take years to make it through. He has sustained me, guided me, loved me, protected me. Every time I start going through something the questions start coming: Why do I have to go through this? How long is this going to last? Is this fair? And yet, on the other side of those circumstances, once they are gone through, I can most definitely and clearly see the hand of God moving in my life. I can see why some things happened. There are some things that I don't understand, nor can I as of right now see the point of, but I also know that I wouldn't be here, right here, where I am at this very day and time, without them. So I rest assured that God is my refuge and strength, and that He is a very present help in trouble. Sometimes, it helps to remember that when a parent helps a child out of a situation, it isn't always in the way or in the form that the child wanted the help to come in, yet, the parent knows more and can help in a way that has lasting effect, not just temporary effect. God does this to us. He may not help us in the exact way that our finite human minds have completely figured out, but He will help in the way that only He can, which is in the way that is best for us. It also amazed me that when I know I need help, I also seemingly know exactly how that help should come and what it should consist of. However, would I really need help if I had all the answers. Help is a two-fold process: asking, then receiving.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
I don't know about you, but this picture above scares me. Could you imagine the earth being removed and the mountains carried into the sea? the mountains shaking with the sea's swelling? This sound extremely catastrophic to me. However, the Psalmists declare that they will not be afraid. How can they not be? Because God is their refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. They know, like we all should, that whatever comes their way, no matter what it is, God has it under control. No matter how bad it may look from our viewpoint and our perspective, we see dimly as of right now (1 Corinthians 13:12). We cannot see clearly nor see the whole picture. We think our tiny view is the whole picture, when in reality our little tiny, teensy weensy view is just a small thread in the canvas of creation.
4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
God will not allow His church to be moved. He sees. He knows. We project our personal problems into communal problems by associating others into them. We run to our parents, our friends, our significant others, people who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior... all these people when we should run to God first. I am not saying to not share your burdens (Proverbs 15:22; 11:14, Galatians 6:2). We just need to run to our Refuge and Strength, our very present help in times of trouble first. The Holy Spirit represents the river above. God has given His Spirit to us, to the church. There is joy to be had in the Spirit. When we run to our Refuge and Strength, He will lead us beside the still waters. We will enjoy the comfort and companionship of the Spirit.
6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Once again, we enter into what men do. Nations rage. Kingdoms move. Yet God utters His voice and the earth melts. This clearly and plainly shows the sovereignty of God. At the mere opening of His mouth, the earth melts. This is the God who is with us! This is the God who is our refuge! The very God that can cause the earth to melt by the words of His tongue is our very present help in times of trouble. Who cares if what we are going through isn't fair? Not much in life is fair to our flawed, "its all about me," materialistic attitude. We should all be rich, laying on the beach, sipping mimosas and not having a care in the world right? Yet, God, the very God that could destroy the earth by His words (and which, I might add, spoke the world into existence) so loved this world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whomsoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). Redemption was born through suffering. My life was bought by the unfair price Jesus paid. Anyone who wants to talk about things not being fair... read the Gospel. God may have created the beach, but He didn't intend for us to spend our lives laying on it.
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
We pride ourselves on our military, our national strength. Men pride themselves on "men stuff." Women pride themselves on "women stuff." We, mere humans, pride ourselves that we matter to the point that the whole world is about us. We boast in our strength as humans, our uniqueness as mankind. We make this, we invent that, we start this war or "finish" this one. We believe that God is merely here to serve us, in what we want and in what we think is right. We fool ourselves into thinking that we somehow share the running of this universe with the Almighty God. While we occupy space and time in it, we are weak, pitiful creatures that constantly need a Savior. In all reality, the very breath we take that some use to curse God is the very thing that we would not have without Him. He makes wars cease. He is sovereign over all things. When nations rise up in all their might and glory He sets them back down in their place.
10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
Be still is a command, not a suggestion. Still is defined as "not moving or making a sound; deep silence and calm." So, we have a command to do something, but what comes next? Another command. BE still and KNOW that I am God. The word know requires actions on our part. However, it is not a physical action. We are so consumed with gadgets and trinkets and the such (this computer I am writing on, for instance) that it is almost impossible to sit still (being a drummer, my body is always moving... my feet are tapping, my fingers are dancing, my legs are shaking, or my lips are being used as audible percussive instruments). The first command is to get our focus centered. Tune the world out. Tune into God. This is not some transcendental meditational formula. It is simply biblical and Godly reflection (we have gone so far to steer clear of the New Age movement that we assume that any sort of reflection, while still, is an attempt to go out of ourselves and into the astral projections of our mind, achieving transcendence; being still is simply quieting ourselves and letting the Spirit that is within us speak clearly. Not the same thing). It is in this preparational stage that we then are commanded to act again, and that is to know. Knowing requires two things, in my opinion: understanding with the head and acceptance with the heart. But what if we took it further? What if, because we are humans, we let every aspect of our lives know that He is God? What if we allowed our bodies to know that He is God? Even though we may be going through sickness, may not look the way we have always wanted to, or might have a defect, we are in the body God designed and gave to us. Some have treated their bodies better than others. However, any body can glorify God in what the person within chooses to do with it. What if we exercised the understanding of knowing that God is God when faced with sickness and difficulties within our bodies? What if we allowed our minds to fully grasp that He is God? He is not God because we do or do not grasp that He is. He is God because He is God. Yet, if we can ever understand and know that, then our outlook changes. Our mental picture or who we are, what this earth is, who others are, all come into proper focus when our minds know that He is God. What about our hearts? When our hearts know that He is God, we can love like He loves. Our hearts will become a heart of flesh and not stone. A heart that can beat with His. What about our spirits? Once our spirits know that He is God, we can cease to spend so much time, effort and energy in building up fleshly treasures and making our bodies into what the world says they should be, and we can concentrate on storing up treasures in heaven and using the body God gave us to glorify Him. Materialism is not so much a spiritual problem as it is simply a problem of not fully knowing God in all capacities that we have as humans. What about our emotions? When our emotions know that He is God, we can truly glorify Him. In all of what it means to be human, this is the area I struggle with the most. My body knows that God is God. My mind knows that God is God. My heart knows that God is God. Yet my emotions seem to be taking a while in receiving that memo. When someone hurts me, I react, but not as if I know that God is God. When things go wrong, I react, but not as if I know that God is God. Stress? Yeah, I have a lot of it, but I would have less if that part of me understood that God is God. God does not need us to know Him for Him to be God; but we need to know Him for Him to be God to us. Knowing God is how we live our lives as Christians. Can we really claim to be a Christian if we do not know God? Another thing that we need to understand is that God will be exalted among the nations and in the earth whether we know Him to be God or not. The two statements are not dependent upon each other. We don't KNOW God and then He is exalted by our knowing. God says to know Him, for He will be exalted. His exaltation is not dependent upon our knowing Him.
11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Then, to conclude, once again God plainly and clearly tells us that He is with us. He is our refuge. In Him, the one who can cause the earth to cease by His voice and the one who can stop nations of humans in their tracks, we have our strength, our refuge. He is a very present help in trouble. KNOW God.