Fear or Faith?
Our nation, our world is gripped in fear. According to WHO, Covid-19 is officially at pandemic levels. The minute by minute reports of it spreading to new countries and taking more and more lives has caused genuine and understandable fear. While Health Professionals and Governments have sought to put in place protective measures it has led to panic buying in our shops and paralysing anxiety in others.
As we are confronted with the reality of this pandemic how are you responding? The problem with all the news updates and social media frenzy is that we can start listening to the wrong voices. We sit on the edge of our seats waiting for the next ‘alert’ from WhatsApp or Twitter, we frantically send on ‘stories’ from Instagram and Snapchat. We only create others to panic and cause ourselves anxiety. So let me encourage you to put your phones down and listen to another voice – God’s voice through Psalm 46.
A Statement of Faith v1-7
‘Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way…’ v2
The author is facing real and genuine Fear. The world is in turmoil, society seems on the verge of collapse; ‘waters roar and foam’ and ‘mountains quake with their surging’. There is no sign of peace only panic. It sounds familiar.
But the statement of faith in the midst of fear is – though everything may seem to be falling apart there is a place of safety.
(i) Present refuge
‘God is our refuge and strength an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.’
God is the one who spoke the universe into existence. At his command the waters move and are stilled, by his word the mountains shake and are quietened: ‘he lifts his voice, the earth melts.’ Do not run in fear, run in faith to the God who is in Sovereign control of everything, the universe, the world and coronavirus. Heaven is not in panic mode and neither should we.
(ii) Future rest
‘…the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.’
Living in this world and looking in faith does not mean I will not catch Coronavirus, or that if I contract it I will not die. Looking in faith means I do not need to fear now or the future. The contrast of verses 1-3 and 4-6 are intentional. Instead of the roar of waters we have a ‘river whose stream makes glad the city of God.’; instead of quaking and surging mountains we have a city that ‘will not fall’. Jerusalem, the residence of the King, was where the people ran for safety. How much more should we not fear but look in faith to our eternal city: ‘God is within her, she will not fall. God will help her at break of day.’ We will all one day die, it maybe natural causes or it may be a virus, this world is not our home we have an eternal rest.
Do not run in fear, run in faith to our eternal King who will welcome us to his eternal city.
A Word of Encouragement v7-11
‘Be still and know that I am God’ v10
Our writer is in the midst of chaos and disorder. In his case it seems to be the attack of nations and the threat of war. When trouble comes in whatever form it’s easy to look down rather than look up. Our natural default response is to worry and panic.
But the word of encouragement causes us to remember and listen to another voice – though everything may seem to be falling apart there is a person of safety.
(i) Remember God’s works
‘Come and see what the Lord has done…’
Here is an invitation to stop the panic buying and remember the works of God.
He is in charge. For the author that meant the God who won battles and crushed enemies: ‘He makes wars to cease…He breaks the bow and shatters the spear and burns the shield with fire.’ Once again we are amazed at the awesome power and authority of God. Nothing and no one is too big for God to conquer. Of course we too can remember the works of God – his power over sin suffering and Satan. God has defeated our greatest enemy death itself through his resurrection. He reigns and rules and controls our destiny. Those who remember his works know the peace, assurance and safety of God. Nothing, not even coronavirus can separate us from the eternal love of the Lord.
(ii) Listen to God’s words
‘I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’
We listen to the reports, we hear the voices of concern and we are right to listen and take action. Yet we need perspective. No-one knows how this virus will play out, and what other pandemics we will face in the future. We live in a sin cursed world and we feel the effects of that every day. Yet there is one constant, one foundation, one undeniable and unbreakable reality – God will be exalted. He will be worshipped as the one and only true God. Because of this virus people will turn to the Living God.
Don’t panic and worry, don’t fear and fret ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ That does not mean hide ourselves in a room and block out the noise. It means in the chaos we can be still. We remember and listen.
Psalm 46 is a word for us in the midst of great concern. Rather than run in fear we run in faith to God. In repentance we turn from our anxious selves and look in trust to the Lord Almighty. Our author wants us to keep our focus with a repeated refrain, there is a place and person of safety: ‘The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress’ v7, 11.