God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, though the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Though its water roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God…
It is impossible for us to know how many souls these words have encouraged since their inspired writing – only God can keep the record of the troubles and the tears of His people, but He does remember them each. Not a sparrow can fall to the ground without the heavenly Father’s notice, and we are of much more worth than them. He knows each sorrow, each worry, each concern, each problem, each struggle, and every heartache of our lives.
We often feel that the mountains of our lives are quaking, those things which seemed so great and tall, so grand and worthy of our aspirations and emulation, those things we had aspired to become or had hoped to gain, are often either taken from us before we are able to climb to the heights and claim them for ourselves, or after we do gain them we realize how shallow and meaningless they are. Someone said that there are two tragedies of human life – one is not getting what you want and the other is getting it.
Sometimes even the earth shakes beneath our feet, those things that are familiar and dear to us, that we assume will always be are taken away. We are brought to our knees with the realization of our humanity, suddenly faced with our weaknesses and the reality of the brevity of our life. How can we not fear and turn to depression in this world? How can we have hope to carry on, seeing that all on earth that we know and touch and love and trust will one day fade into dust?
God gives us reason for confidence even in the face of these realities. He dares to speak to us about eternal hope, of refuge and strength, of life beyond, of the Spirit becoming in us like a stream of fresh water, strengthening us daily within even while the outer person grows weaker. While the sea with the great drama of its waves and foam swallows up the earthly things that we had trusted in, amidst the loud splashing of the waves, amid the glare of media attention and under the eyes of the world, there is a greater thing happening beneath the surface – the gentle stream of God refreshes our hearts.
Jerusalem was fed by an underground spring, one invisible to the surface-bound eye. Christ referred to this fact when He said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him,” and John clarified so we would not be in dark to His meaning that He referred to the Spirit who we who believe receive (John 7:38-39). And so within us who believe there is an infinitely greater thing happening in our hearts: God is assuring us of His love and providing us with His comfort in all of this. He gives spiritual life to the spiritually dead, strength to the weary, comfort to the troubled, hope to the hopeless, wholeness to the wounded, and light to the blind.
Often in the physical world, the quaking and shifting of the earth open up the reservoirs of water that lie beneath the surface. And in our lives often the crises of life so shake us that we find the hidden reservoir of God’s strength. So all of this surging and foaming and quaking in our lives and in our world has a serendipitous effect – a surprising discovery of His grace and mercy.
Therefore we will not fear.