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).
17 Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals.” (1 Kings 18:17–18, NKJV)
With the influence of his evil wife Jezebel, king Ahab advanced Baal worship in Israel (1 Kings 16:29-33). God sent a drought upon the land for over three years to show His great displeasure (1 Kings 17:1; James 5:17). Ahab blamed God’s prophet Elijah for the trouble, but it was Ahab and his house who had forsaken God’s commands and led the nation into deeper sin. Ahab was the real troubler of Israel. Here is a clear lesson concerning culpability when distress, trials, trouble, and division occurs among Christians. God says the troubler of His people are those who forsake His commandments and follow false ways. Yet, like Ahab, those who “hold fast the pattern of sound words” against the religious innovations borne of human desire and design are still (incorrectly) charged with being troublemakers (2 Timothy 1:13). No, we become troublers of Israel when we go beyond the doctrine of Christ and teach false, misleading things (2 John 9; Acts 20:29-30). False gods and false doctrines still plague the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16-17). Let us never be a modern-day Ahab who defends error while condemning truth and those who uphold it.
15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” 16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, 17 Seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you?” (Psalm 50:15–17, NKJV)
The wicked, who defy God’s law and break His covenant, have no ground to stand upon and declare what God will or will not do. God is not a talisman or lucky charm to be called upon to conjure up blessings in a moment of crisis. Yet, too many people think of God this way. They have little time or use for God until a crisis occurs, and then they can be heard crying to God for help. God is not a fire-extinguisher on standby only when we have a problem that needs fixing. He commands and deserves our gratitude and faithful allegiance always. The Lord God hears and answers the cries of the righteous (1 Peter 3:10-12). Are you responsive to what God wants from you (His words of instruction)? If not, how can you expect Him to respond to your cries for help? What right do you have to say what God will or will not do, seeing you have rejected His word? Come back to God and obey His word. Then, He will hear and answer your prayers according to His will, not yours (1 John 5:14-15).
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.
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come to You. 2 Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; Incline Your ear to me; In the day that I call, answer me speedily. (Psalm 102:1–2, NKJV)
Burdensome trials are common to us all as we travel through life; none of us are immune from the pains and sorrows of the flesh. Those who live by faith face the additional stresses and strains brought on by seeing and hearing the lawless deeds of the wicked (2 Peter. 2:8). Yet, just as God “delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked”, the Lord knows how to “deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Pet. 2:7, 9). One way He does so is by hearing and answering the fervent prayers of the righteous. The Lord hears the cries of His people. He sends forth His goodwill from His throne of grace to help us in time of need (Heb. 4:16). God is our “very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1). Do not forget to pray, and do not fail to trust that God will hear and answer your prayers (1 Jno. 5:14-15).
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. 8 The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands. (Psalm 138:7–8, NKJV)
When the psalmist cried out to the Lord in the past, his cry was answered according to God’s lovingkindness and truth (Psa. 138:3). Now, the psalmist summarizes his continued reliance upon God in the midst of trouble; God “will” act on his behalf! Like the psalmist, God’s power saves and enlivens us, even as He delivers His wrath upon the enemies of the righteous. All is not lost when you must travel the road of trouble; the Lord is not finished with you. God is able to perfect or complete you by means of your present trials (1 Pet. 1:6-9). His mercy is endless, therefore, He will not abandon you. Be strengthened in your faith, and never abandon Him.