By Kenneth E. Ware
B&R Guest Columnist
Pastor, New Sholar Avenue Baptist Church, Chattanooga
Amid such difficult and tumultuous times today, if we are not careful, we may tend to complain and grumble about our present circumstances.
Tornado threats, power outages, loss of employment, damaged houses, demolishment of cherished possessions, loss of loved ones, lack of food, canceled church services until further notice, social distancing and shelter in place ordinances are only a few repercussions of the global impact of the present COVID-19 pandemic.
It may seem natural to ask yourself the question, “What will happen to me next?”
The sons of Korah, of the Levitical priesthood, have some choice words of encouragement to share with us today as we face such turbulent days of uncertainty. God is our refuge, refresher and rest.
(1) God is our refuge (Psalm 46:1-3)
Faith is worthless until it has been tested by the fires and floods of life. The more our faith is tested, the more our faith grows in God.
Because God is our refuge and strength, the child of God need not fear the storms of life. A “refuge” is a place of security, shelter and safety. In other words, God is our protection during this global pandemic. God does not merely show up whenever we go through difficult times and hardships in life. He has never left us. The psalmist affirms that God is, “a very present help in trouble.” God is everpresent with His people, therefore, He is close to us during times of danger and disaster.
(2) God is our refresher (Psalm 46:4-9)
This past winter, I took a pilgrimage to Israel. The climax of the pilgrimage was a four-day tour in Jerusalem. When King David besieged the Jebusites, he bought a threshing floor (a.k.a. Mt. Moriah) from Araunah the Jebusite for fifty shekels of silver and extended the city’s borders and named it Jerusalem, Israel’s new capital city (cf. II Samuel 24:18-25).
The site is where King Solomon built the Temple, the House of the Lord. In Jerusalem, during the days of King David, there were rivers running through the city of God. One in particular was the Gihon Spring, a freshwater spring in the Kidron Valley.
It served as the main source of water for the Pool of Siloam at Hezekiah’s Tunnel and for drinking water to refresh the thirst of God’s people.
Today, it is also used for mikvahs (ritual baths for ceremonial cleansing) and the irrigation of gardens.
Etymologically, Gihon means to “gush out.” While water that is stagnant indicates death, water that is moving symbolizes life. The psalmist says of the Gihon Spring, “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God … God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, just at the break of dawn” (vv. 4-5).
As God was faithful to provide fresh water from the Gihon Spring to the city and occupants of Jerusalem, so too, will He be faithful to refresh us with life and grace as we self-quarantine. Although you are lonely at times, know for sure you are not alone, for “the Lord of hosts is with us” (v. 7).
(3) God is our rest (Psalm 46:10-11)
It is quite easy to know about God and not know God. Usually, we come to know Him more through trials. It is also natural to be concerned about matters that we are encountering today.
The Lord knows we have emotions of fear. However, don’t allow your fear to lure you out of the will of God. Don’t let fear keep you from getting to know God on a deeper more personal level. We are told to, “Be still and know that I am God” (v.10). The Hebrew imperative means to “cease striving from war-like activities and acknowledge God’s supremacy.”
Wow! We must stop wrestling and battling against things only God can handle. From the words of Jahaziel, another Levitical priest, “for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (cf. II Chronicles 20:14-17).
So, the next time you are gripped with fear, pick up your Bible and dial 9-1-1, “He that dwells in the shelter of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (cf. Psalm 91:1).
Practical truths when facing days of uncertainty
B – Believe: Believe in God even when you are helpless and your resources are lacking.
E – Emotions: Don’t allow your emotions of fear to dictate your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
S – Sovereign: Know that God is sovereign. He reigns and rules over the earth victoriously.
T – Trust: Trust in God at all times, even when confronted with fear and doubt.
I – Immanuel: Know that God is with you always.
L – Listen: Listen to the Lord as He speaks to you through prayer, Bible reading and circumstances.
L – Loyalty: Remain loyal to God as He patiently works things out in your life. B&R