God of Disruption
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.
10“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
11The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
This morning I had the privilege of participating in a time of Lectio Divina (Spiritual Reading) with some fellow church workers. We were meeting online, which was different for us. Usually, we meet once a month, face-to-face for Bible Study and mutual encouragement. But, in response to our current situation, we dutifully and wisely met from the comfort of our own offices via the internet. Even from the distance, we were able to share our concerns and struggles with life as we know it in the moment. Along with that sharing, we worked our way through Psalm 46, which is an absolute beacon of hope and instruction. I was so struck by the immediacy of this Psalm, I needed to write about it today.
This psalm has been a favorite of Christians for millennia. It was written by the worship leaders of the day – the Son of Korah. As such, it would have been sung by Jewish believers during their times of worship and praise. It may have (quite probably) have been sung by Jesus Himself as He obediently went to worship in the Temple. And now these words serve us in 2020 as we face a worldwide pandemic. Our days are filled with “News Alerts” and updates about the virus, our economy, and our abilities to care for or abuse one another due to the stress. But God's Word continues to be a source of hope and comfort.
When God’s Word comes into the situation, our perspective is altered – forever. For those who have never used Lectio Divina as a tool for Bible meditation, it’s fairly simple. The text is read 4 times, with periods of prayer, contemplation, and mostly listening to the Lord between those readings. As I took notes during that hour, some concepts and rather surprising ideas began to take shape and I want to share them with you.
The first read through took me to the usual verses and phrases; we will not fear, be still and know that I am God … I was expecting that. But then, with the 2nd and 3rd readings, I was shocked by what stood out; ... nations are in up-roar and ... the desolations He has brought upon the earth. Suddenly, it appeared that His purposes are served in these times. I won’t go so far as to say God created this crisis, but He certainly isn’t going to waste it. There are things to learn and spiritual growth to be had! Now I’m excited. This doesn’t have to be a time to just endure, but instead it can be a time when God speaks and gives us new strength and purpose.
In the last time through the reading, we look for our “marching orders.” What am I to do about what I’ve read and where God has led me? Several things came to mind:
- It’s time to use the tools we’ve already been given to meet this crisis – and there are already many!
- We have the gift of tapping into God’s creativity. He is magnificently creative and shares that trait with us on many levels.
- Suddenly, when all around us seem to be losing their minds, we have the chance to be calm and share our trust in God.
- We get to watch God’s mighty hand unfold His will in this difficult time.
- Now we remain vigilantly obedient to the impulse to pray for those around us.
Let me also take a moment to point to that most famous verse in Psalm 46 – verse 10.
Be still and know that I am God. Upon just a little investigation, I learned that the Hebrew word there for “Be still” is more closely translated as “Enough!” or “Stop”. One is put in mind of a parent having reached the end of their endurance for the crazy that is child rearing and they yell "Enough!" Maybe, as we feel the fear or panic settle in we would be better off to just stop!
Finally, one of the others in the group reminded us of a verse from Psalm 75 which says, When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. That is just the best! The world seems to be shaking under our feet, but God is still God, remaining in firm control of it all. He tells our panic "enough" and our spirits grow quiet.