1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah” (Psalm 46:1–3, NKJV)
We live in days of uncertainty. A new strain of coronavirus has encircled the globe, bringing illness, death, fear, and panic in its wake. Questions abound: “What can be done to halt its advance?” “What will the future bring?” “Am I and my loved ones at risk?” “How will it affect me and those I love?” Lessons resurface for our learning – if we will listen and heed them – including these: Life is a vapor, soon gone. Life is uncertain, and some things are beyond our control. Illness and death are great equalizers, whether rich or poor. Wealth cannot protect against death, which reaches out and touches us all. Trouble will continue to come in this life. When they do, to whom do you turn? God is our shelter and security when adversity, distress, trials, and anxiety are afoot. But beware. God is not a fire escape to we forget until the moment of crisis. He is the constant Helper of those who put their trust in Him (Heb. 13:5-6). Our confidence is in the Creator, who made the earth and the sea. Should our world crumble around us, we will still rely on the One who calmed the sea (Mark 4:35-41).
1 Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! 2 For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? (Psalm 43:1–2, NKJV)
The psalmist’s heart was tempted by doubt as he faced evil pressures from an ungodly nation. He pleaded to God for deliverance from the deceit and injustices that surrounded him, and that were directed at him. If David is the author of this psalm, we recall his son Absalom’s treason, and the betrayal of Ahithophel, David’s once trusted adviser, as illustrations of overwhelming moments of temptation for David (2 Sam. 14-18). Had God cast him aside? No, by no means! As we live in a nation that increasingly denies God and refuses to be ruled by godly principles, we must remember that “God is my strength” (v. 2). We must keep our hope and trust in Almighty God, who “rules in the kingdoms of men,” vindicating the upright and punishing evil (Dan. 4:25-26, 34-35; Rom. 12:17-19). Instead of mourning the oppressive tactics of the enemies of truth and goodness, let us keep faith in God. His will is that we are not overcome by evil, but that we “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:20-21).
67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David,” (Luke 1:67–69, NKJV)
With words of inspiration, the father of the forerunner of the Messiah, spoke forth praise unto God for His wonderful provisions of redemption. God’s plan of redemption for Israel (as well as the nations) was always spiritual in nature. In Christ Jesus, this plan is fully realized and accomplished, as salvation from sins is provided through Him (Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 2:11-18). Note the threefold aspect of Israel’s redemption, as proclaimed by Zacharias: 1) Its Source is supernatural. The Lord Himself visited and redeemed His people. Jesus Christ is this supernatural visitor and Redeemer (John 1:11-13); 2) Its Strength is salvation. God’s might against sin is magnified in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world (Acts 4:12); 3) Its Sovereign reigns. The Messiah sits on the throne of His father, David, ruling the kingdom of God (Luke 1:32-33; Psalm 110:1-2; Acts 2:32-36). God has sent His salvation. His name is Jesus. He calls us out of sin and into the warmth of His love and forgiveness. Come to Jesus; He will save you (Matthew 11:28-30).
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7–8, NKJV)
In contrast to the one who trusts in man (verses 5-6), the person who trusts and hopes in the Lord, is as a mighty tree, planted by the waters. Its roots grow deep and wide, nourished by the water and strengthened by its refreshment. It survives seasons of heat and drought, flourishing and bearing its good fruit. So are those who put their faith and hope in God. God is our Life-giver, who also sustains us through life’s trials and difficulties. And, more than physical sustenance, the Lord has prepared for us a better place than this world of shadows and sorrow. A heavenly dwelling place awaits all who put their trust and confident expectation in Jesus (John 14:1-6). Far from having blind faith, our eyes are wide open as we see from afar the heavenly country (Hebrews 11:13-16). Walk by faith. Trust the Lord, and rest your hope in Him.
37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:37–38, NKJV)
The powerful arm of the Lord was revealed to Israel by the many signs (miracles) Jesus did before the people. His miracles were heaven’s testimony that He is the Christ, the Son of God (John 5:36; 20:30-31; Acts 2:22). Yet, despite His marvelous works, they did not believe in Him. Why not? John answers that question with another quote from Isaiah: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them” (John 12:40; Isaiah 6:9-10). It has been said there are none so blind as he who will not see. When we willfully harden our hearts against God and His Son, His testimony of truth will not penetrate it. We will remain lost in our unbelief. The strength of the Lord (His “arm”) has been revealed to the world through Jesus Christ. We must humble our hearts and open our eyes and ears to God’s powerful truth. By doing so, we can understand His will, turn back to God, and be healed of our sins.
1 The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved. 2 Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. (Psalm 93:1–2, NKJV)
Although evil man exerts evil power against innocent ones, Jehovah is clothed in the strength of His eternal nature, and is mightier than all. By His might, He created the world, and by His power He maintains it. His sovereign rule over the world will not be deterred by the forces of evil. As America remembers the thousands of lives lost on September 11, 2001, we also recall the power of good that arose from the rubble. The nation united to rebuild and to defend freedom. Christians do well to always remember that our God is clothed in strength, and is always present to defend and to sustain His righteous cause. His protective hand is with us, even when surrounded by evil. Put your trust in the Almighty, who reigns in power from all eternity. Walk by faith; victory over evil is certain in Jesus, the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7–10, NKJV)
One little tidbit of internet inspiration I came across said, “God will cancel every trouble in your life.” That sounds comforting, but it is very unscriptural. God did not cancel every trouble in the life of Jesus, Job, Joseph, David, and many, many others. Today’s passage shows that God did not remove Paul’s fleshly ailment, but, He gave Paul the grace and strength to endure its pain and trouble. Rely on God’s strength to help you weather the trials and trouble of life. Trust and obey the Lord in times of trouble, and by His strength, you will prevail.