Fear, My News Feed, and Psalm 46
Anyone else feeling prone to panic these days? I watched CCN 10 (a 10-minute global news show for students) with my daughters this morning and it had my stomach in knots. The photos from the earthquake in Mexico were heart wrenching. The impending doom for Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria was sickening. And the update on threats coming from Kim Jong-Un in North Korea was downright scary.
These calamities and potential catastrophes feel close. I’m traveling to South America via Mexico this fall and the earthquake tempts me to consider staying home instead. I’ve been in enough earthquakes in Japan to feel paralyzed by the thought of going through more. And North Korea’s threat of an electromagnetic attack by detonating a nuclear bomb almost directly above Colorado has me feeling very vulnerable in the middle of this continent. Our planet’s current natural disasters and political unrest are almost too much.
I am so thankful the girls and I memorized Psalm 46 last week. I can’t encourage you enough to do the same. Right now I need the power of God’s words in this Psalm to re-center me in the face of fear. Without the constant reminders of his power and protection, readily available in my stream of consciousness, I would be tempted to despair.
And not only that, but my kids are looking to me for how they should respond to the news, as well. Their eyes go from the screen to my face and back with each story. They want to see how I’m processing what I’m seeing—how I handle it. I need to be ready to respond with the Word of God for their sakes and mine. Neither their hope nor mine will be satisfied in geography, or diplomacy, or statistics. I want our hope, our refuge, our strength to be in God alone.
As we pore over Psalm 46 we can see Mexico in verse 2. We can see Puerto Rico in verse 3. We can see North Korea in verse 6. And we can see the Lord our God in verses 7-11. We can turn our sights on history and “behold the works of the Lord.” We can remind ourselves with each news reel that when the Lord “utters his voice, the earth melts.”
No matter what comes, our God will be exalted in the nations. He is over all the Earth. And we have the City of God (verse 4) to look forward to! This world is not the end of the story. Come what may, we Christians will indeed join the Most High in his holy habitation.
Like Peter instructed the early church, I want to “set [my] hope fully on the grace that will be brought to [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). Jesus and his grace are my only hope. I want to tuck reminders of that hope in my mind and heart and freely transfer them to my daughters in times of uncertainty.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
You may enjoy meditating on this Psalm through song, as well. The famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God” was written by Martin Luther in the 1500s and is based on the words of Psalm 46. With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation upon us next month, it would be a timely and life-giving anthem to have at the ready. Here is a helpful history of the hymn from Tim Challies and my favorite rendition of it by HeartSong at Cedarville University.