God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.-Psalm 46:1-3
On a purely personal level, the forty-sixth Psalm is one of my favorites. But this Psalm, and this sermon, speak to the day to day struggles as well as the major traumas that we all experience in one way or another, and it is eerie, in particular, how much the last section of this week’s sermon reminds me of the fears so many of us have about our current political climate: unrest, violence, wars and rumors of wars, uncertainty. But for most people these kind of fears are almost theoretical until they produce real, present fruit.
I know people who are facing down the possibility of losing their jobs, fearing what will happen if they suddenly are unable to continue providing for their families. I know some who are facing down illness, in themselves and in family, that threatens livelihood and life itself. And I know people who have suddenly, with no control at all, found themselves thrust deep into personal turmoil, feeling like the world is pulling them deeper down into drowning depression and dread. No matter the cause, there is a whole world of strife, fear, and frustration that stands in the way of our joy.
This is why it is crucial for the believer to understand that the nature of his relationship with Jesus extends beyond the simple matter of salvation and going to heaven. So many of us hear about Jesus Christ as though the transaction that occurs here is, “I intellectually assent to the idea that Jesus died on the cross and rose again, therefore I will go to heaven when I die.” But that is such a shallow understanding of who Christ is, and who we, his church, are in relationship to him, that it’s no wonder so many believers struggle to find hope even as they hold the greatest hope there could ever be.
We stand upon the Rock of Ages. Think about the parable Jesus told about the houses, one built on rock and one on sand:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” -Matthew 7:24-27
The storm will come.
The earth will give way.
The mountains will someday be thrown into a wild and tempestuous sea.
But those who have lives that stand rooted in Jesus Christ can and will endure all of this—not by their own strength, not by their own wisdom, but because they have real hope in the eternal God who has made us. Even our greatest sufferings, even our final sufferings, will ultimately serve for our good and for his glory.
Photo via Flickr