Stillness in the Midst
Have you ever been puzzled by scripture?
This psalm used to bother me just a little. There is so much beautiful imagery here, "we will not fear, though the earth gives way," "he lifts his voice, the earth melts," and "a river whose streams make glad the city of God." (which I couldn't fit in...darn designing! Read the full psalm, its fantastic) There is, of course the more well known "be still and know that I am God."
But what is all this business about war? I kind of wish the writer would have left that out. I don't really know much about war. Its never really impacted me on a personal level. Certainly it has been tragic to see it in the news and see many who lose a loved one. Many of us may have family in the armed services and have had to watch them go off to serve a tour or two or perhaps even more.
Even my own brother has been in the Navy for over a decade, but I've never felt the impact of war on my day-to-day life.
Until recently. Some of you may have seen in the news Ohio Governor Mike Dewine and his team addressing concerns and updating us regarding the COVID-19 virus. One of the metaphors that they have been using constantly is that of war. We may not be engaged in a physical battle that requires our strength and taking up of arms, but there is life and death on the line. We may not be sending troops to a foreign country, the the fight has come to our soil, our state.
We are being asked to see this time as a battle where we all have a part to play. We are being asked to sacrifice for the good of our neighbor, our community, our state, our country. We are being challenged to put down our own desires (however good they are!) for the sake of the greater good.
Suddenly the war analogy feels real. Something is being asked of me and I am asked to be patient, to not "survival stock-up" on supplies so that everyone may be able to get what they need, to stay inside and limit my interactions with groups of people.
These are, in many ways, small things that are being asked of me. Yet, it puts this psalm into a whole different light.
...the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
Nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall;
...the mountains quake with their surging.
This is intense imagery. And even a small dose of the news can certainly make it feel as though the world is falling apart.
And yet, there is another side to the coin in this psalm. In the midst of world shaking movement and upending destruction there is another reality.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
...he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
Certainly even God seems involved in the world-shaking! Yet in his relationship with us his promise remains that, "The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." In all of the turmoil and trial and challenges God invites us:
Be still and know
that I am God.
This is the Lord's invitation in this psalm. To turn our hearts and minds toward him and rest in knowing Him. To know him as our fortress in every dire situation and run to Him and Him alone.