Psalm 46: 1-3:
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (ESV).
These are powerful verses. There have been many natural disasters in the world lately and these verses have both literal and symbolic applications.
"We will not fear." What does it mean, not to fear? Does it mean we will ignore warnings to evacuate our houses when a hurricane approaches? Most of us would agree that such an action is not bravery but foolhardiness and potentially a grave disservice to your neighbour. Your neighbour will be obliged to waste time rescuing you when you could have saved yourself. Just hope that your neighbour is motivated by the charity and forgiveness of a Christian.
No, "not fearing" means something deeper than that. It might mean being at peace when you have no control over a situation. For example, suppose your city is being approached by a hurricane and you just happen to be on a hospital bed being prepared for heart surgery. You might understand and appreciate these words:
Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10).
This short verse might be more appropriate than a long sermon.
"Not fearing" might also mean being at peace with pain. Someone suffering from multiple bone fractures resulting from a horrendous accident, for example, is in for a world of hurt. Pain exists; it is real. It is part of our fallen world. Not only that, but it's painful.
Learning how to cope with pain; to minimize pain; to transcend pain; to work around the edges of pain and to conquer it-these are tremendous challenges that I am quite happy to observe other people tackle.
This brings us to those of us who have no obvious catastrophes to point to as a cause of our fear. We might still feel restless, anxious, moody or angry. There is no real explanation for this other than that we are human. We too can find comfort in the words: "be still, and know that I am God."
James Houston, in The Transforming Power of Prayer (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Navpress) 1996, states:
Becoming quiet before God means to reject all intrusions that might interrupt our being with God. Such intrusions could include noisiness, anxious thoughts, or even self-consciousness. This can be a hard lesson to learn. We can achieve stillness by having a simple approach to God-the approach of a child who simply trusts its parent. A simple approach allows us to enjoy God's acceptance, and to be filled with his assurance and his confidence. Prayer at this level happens when no words are expressed, no thoughts are declared, because God's presence surpasses all that our senses might declare. The thought of Psalm 46, "Be still and know that I am God," is the climax of the life of prayer (page 48).
Peace and faith to all.