By Paul Pierpoint
As we face the new year, we have no knowledge of what the future may hold. There is a faith we can demonstrate that will bring encouragement no matter what may take place—good or bad.
Psalm 46 is one of my favorite Psalms. I enjoy viewing how the Psalmist finds encouragement, even in the worst of his trials. This Psalm contains some key verses that unlock for us timeless truths that would be good to memorize. (Psalm 46:1–11)
1. The Psalmist describes the need for encouragement.
The Psalmist gives us a graphic description of the turmoil that he was facing in his day. I know the language here is symbolic, but look at these images: the mountains are trembling…the sea is raging. The very things that he found security in are now falling apart. He is on shaky ground. He was fearful. His dreams of supposed strength were being blasted. The Psalmist needed a sense of security—a source of encouragement.
Is there not here a note of familiarity? As it was with the Psalmist in those ancient times, so it is with us today. We too have our need for encouragement and assurance. Needless to say, these are dark and difficult times, fomenting with changes and challenges. You do not have to listen to the news to keep informed about the troublesome day in which we live.
Let us take a moment and list some of these causes for insecurity which produce fear and uncertainty, revealing our need for encouragement.
There’s an insecurity that comes from economic uncertainties
There are national financial problems. Are we headed for another depression?? Some are without a job. Many companies have gone belly up. How much deeper can we go with our national debt? Yes, to say the least, there is a fear that comes from an uncertain economy.
There is an insecurity that comes from the rise of natural disasters
In these past few years, there seems to be an increase in earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and natural disasters. The earth is groaning.
There is an insecurity that comes from the downward moral direction of our country.
What is going to happen to our nation morally? Where will this moral drift take us?
A cultural shift is taking place. There is the problem of drugs and immorality. Abortion and gay marriage are now acceptable. Pornography is a plague. Our youth are faced with a myriad of moral choices.
What is our response to all of this? Do we have to be overwhelmed by the troubles we face? Do we have to be ultimately discouraged or depressed? Does our faith have to be lost? Is there not some encouragement that we can experience? What can we learn from this Psalm?
2. The Psalmist describes the nature of encouragement.
No, he was not blind to the dangers about him, He was not ignorant of the perils of his day. He was not mindless of those “earthquakes” which had taken place. Where then did he find encouragement?
The Psalmist lifts his eyes above his trials and troubles and he shouts it out—in verses 1, 2, 7, and 11. “God is our strength, a very present help in trouble. He is our security our -assurance of encouragement. The Lord of host is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.” Amen!
What is there about this God that brings security, removes needless fears and brings encouragement?
Our assurance of encouragement is based on 3 wonderful facts.
He is a God Who is Existent
In our modern culture, there are some who question the reality of an eternal God. The concept of an eternal God is not a myth. The first two words of the Psalm are enough to make me shout with joy. Did you read it? GOD IS… GOD IS!
I am an emotional being. I confess to you something happens to me when I read these words. It’s like a tonic.
My dear friends, there is no question about it.
God is not dead. God is alive.
God is real.
God is able to communicate.
God is all in all.
God is our defender.
God is our protector.
God is our high tower,
God is in control.
And what are the results of having this kind of God?
WE WILL NOT FEAR! He is a God who is existent. Friends, when things are cracking up all about us, when the mountains are skipping into the sea, we need to take a look at God.
Our refuge is in God. And if our refuge is not in God, we have reason to fear—big-time!
The Bible never seeks to prove the existence of God. It just assumes it. If I did not believe in the existence of a Holy powerful God, I would lose hope. There would be no reason to live, there would be no basis for hope. BUT GOD IS!
Tony Anderson, the great evangelist of the Nazarene Church used to say, “There are two things that God never had and He will never have. (1) He never had a CRADLE and (2) he never had a CASKET. If he had a cradle, I would like to know who was around to rock it. Who was around to sing its lullabies? And if he were to have a casket, who would be around to say the last ‘Farewell?’”
What the Psalmist is saying and what I am simply saying is this, “The existence of God is the ground work of our hope and confidence” It is our assurance of security. We do not have to fear!
But our source, our assurance of encouragement is based on another fact.
He is the God Who is Infinite.
Vs 1 “ God is our refuge and strength..” There is no limit to His strength.
I love the revelation that God gave to Abraham.
When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said unto Him, “ I AM THE ALMIGHTY GOD”. In other words, “I am the INFINITE ONE”. You can put your trust and confidence in Him. The All-Powerful One is our helper and strength in life.
There is no limit to His strength–INFINITE
There is no measure to His power–INFINITE
There is no restriction to His knowledge–INFINITE
There is no shortage of resources–INFINITE
But not only is He the God Who is existent and the God Who is infinite…
He is the God Who is Present
Vs.1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Let me give you a paraphrase of this verse. “God is our refuge, one who is very near at hand. Our God is One who is ever present in the nick of time.”
I love to ride a bike, as a young kid, I dreamed of owning a bike someday. I guess that is why when daddy would say to the family, “Let’s go and see our family in Binghamton, New York” my heart would leap for joy. I would get to see my cousin Wilbur, or, should I say, I would get to see my cousin Wilbur’s bike. I would be able to ride his bike. Wow! I didn’t care much for Wilbur, but I cared for his bike.
I will never forget those trips to Binghamton. It seemed like we would never get there. The old Route 7, was not exactly an interstate, but we would finally make it.
What a joy to see the city and finally turn on the street of our destination. And guess what? Right there, out in plain sight, by my cousin’s porch was Wilbur’s bike.
Why I did it, I do not know. I never asked my father. I did not take the time to look for Wilbur. But I ran to his bike and took off. I guess I had a lot of pent-up energy from that long ride.
In those days, I was not as familiar with the streets as I was years later when I pastored in the city of Binghamton, but I took off down one street to the corner of State Street. There on that corner, I met the town bully. Every town has one. This bully was a monster—a big, ugly, old fellow. He saw me, ran after me, caught me, and knocked me off Wilbur’s bike.
This was not a theft under the cover of darkness, but this guy was after the bike in broad daylight with me riding on it. I was scared. I grabbed hold of the bike and tried to tell him that he couldn’t have it, but it made no difference to him. He hit me again and, for a third time, he knocked me for a loop. But, again, I held on to the bike. We were in a battle. The monster was beating on me. I was determined to hold out to the end, but I could see the end coming. Then, all of a sudden, just when I was about to lose hope, my daddy came down the street in his ‘40 Ford. Suddenly, he saw his only boy in mortal combat. I was in deep trouble.
Daddy screeched those brakes and lunged out the door. That old bully took off. My father met my need. Had he come earlier, I would not have needed him—no danger. Had he come later, it would have been all over for me. But he came just in the nick of time. My despair turned to delight, my defeat changed into victory, assurance replaced insecurity. It had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with my father. He was an ever present help in time of trouble.
And friends, that’s just like our Heavenly Father. I do not know who your town bully is, but know this—your God is bigger than the town bully. And more than that, He is a present help in time of need. He is ever-ready. Your despair can turn to delight, your defeat can change to victory, and assurance can replace insecurity. Your heavenly Father knows how to show up at the very instant you need Him. He is never late. He is always right on time.
Friends, God knows who you are. He knows where you are, He knows about the town bully and the enemy of your soul. He knows how much you can take. He knows how much grace you need. He is bigger than any mountain or any battle that you may face.
OUR GOD IS A REFUGE AND STRENGTH, AN EVER PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE. WITH A GOD WHO IS EXISTENT, INFINITE, AND EVER-PRESENT, WE CAN LOOK FORWARD TO THE COMING YEAR, NOT WITH FEAR, BUT WITH COURAGE. GOD IS WITH US!