“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah” (Reference: Psalms 46:1-3 )
If during the theme of “Persecution” I was reminded of what I have gone through myself, during the theme of “Be Not Afraid” I am reminded of how I have survived what is in my past – both recent and distant. It is very true beloved, if all the things around you are falling apart, you can depend on God to hold you together. I recently joined an online support group and the vast majority of those in the support group commend themselves and others to God. When we are going through trial and tribulations, we look for something that we can depend on and will give us the support and comfort that we crave. Those who find God in those times find “an ever-present help in trouble.”
There is much to fear in this world beloved. Five years ago I did not have as much to fear. Five years ago I was secure in another job and had my health mostly intact. Five years ago I compared these verses from Psalms to disaster movies and said, “One could probably substitute just about any disaster, natural or humanity-made, and the claim can be made that even if this happens one should not be afraid because God is “our refuge and strength.” What about disease? Emotional catastrophes? Violence? Persecution?” In the past five years we (meaning the global “we”) have heard about or witnessed all types of disasters. Violence against the youngest and most defenseless – school children. Disaster that people still have not recovered from and may never recover from.
And when I stop to consider this, I remember what I also said five years ago; “This is the testimony of the Anabaptists, that even though suffering and death threaten them, they will not be afraid. I am sure you can imagine the words of encouragement that the Anabaptists would say to each other as well as you can imagine the scenes of disaster in the verses from Psalms. What is hard to imagine is it actually happening to us.” We can know image it because it is not imagination but reality. It is real to millions . . . and it is real to me.
What else did I have to say in my innocence of what would be reality five years hence? “May the Lord of peace keep you from all disaster and hold you safe in the Divine hand so that you might never have reason to fear.” It was a wonderful wish, but just a wish that did not come true for too many. So this time around, this year, my hope and wish is different.
Beloved, may the Lord God who has never ceased being a refuge and strength be with you when everything else falls away. Selah! And prayers for shalom for all of us!