September 7, 2012
God’s Presence, Peace, and Power
By Skip Heitzig
Following are some thoughts I had in the days immediately following 9/11, 11 years ago. They are just as pertinent today!
The events of the day now known as “911” will always be a dark cloud in our nation’s history. We’ve always needed God, but our citizens are realizing this more urgently than ever. In his address to the nation, President Bush said, “I ask you to be calm and resolute, even in the face of a continuing threat.” But how do we stand firm with courage and hope in uncertain times? The only way to do it is by calling on God for help! We can stand strong by relying on God’s presence, God’s peace, and God’s power as found in Psalm 46.
GOD’S PRESENCE: OUR REFUGE. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling” (Psalms 46:1-3).
When this psalm was written, Israel’s circumstances were not unlike ours. They had been suddenly attacked: The Assyrian army had come from the north, burned the fields to the ground, and surrounded Israel. It was a time of national catastrophe. The people were in “trouble,” literally a “tight place.” They felt surrounded, trapped, and helpless. The psalmist offers help when we’re in trouble; when we feel surrounded, trapped and helpless. We are told to stand firm and say, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.”
GOD’S PEACE: A RIVER. “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved” (Psalms 46:4-5).
In contrast to the tumultuous floodwaters in the previous verse, we see a satisfying, flowing stream. Prior to the Assyrian attack on Israel, Israel’s King Hezekiah had built a conduit from the Gihon spring, Jerusalem’s source of water, into the city. He ordered the spring covered so the enemy would not know it was there. Even in the midst of siege, the inhabitants of Jerusalem had water, the vital sustenance of life. Americans are thirsty. We want purpose in life. We want satisfaction. Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). Only by drinking of the Living Water, Jesus Christ, will we find peace, purpose, and satisfaction in life.
GOD’S POWER: OUR RULER. “Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. 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. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalms 46:8-10).
In view is the future: a time when wars will erupt and a period known as the Great Tribulation will overtake the earth. Jesus told His disciples, “There will be signs…and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26). Ultimately, all this turmoil will culminate in Israel with a battle called Armageddon. Then Jesus Christ will come to end the battle—and end all wars. God, our ruler, will one day reveal His mighty power.
GOD’S PLAN: OUR RESPONSE. In view of God’s presence, peace, and power, how should we respond to attacks on our nation, our security, and our sense of stability? “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). Don’t panic. Be still. When we are overwhelmed and unsure, God’s Word tells us to pause, shift our focus from our circumstances and ourselves, remember who He is, and trust Him with our lives. For many of us, our attention has been summoned and our need for God sharpened by the recent events. How will you respond? Have you truly made Him your refuge? Have you chosen to drink from His stream of satisfaction and received His peace? Have you laid down your arms and surrendered your life to Him, the ruler of all? I pray that you have. If you have not, now is the time! When you do, you will experience His presence, His peace, and His power whatever may come.
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