Crying out to God in the face of coronavirus
One writer reflects on how Psalm 46 is helping him cry out to God.
The pace and stillness of our locked down society is conducive to deep thinking.
Most of it has been productive but some of it has forced me to ask difficult questions of myself. Namely, how do I deal with my personal struggles when everyone else seems to have it worse than me?
How do I deal with my lack of motivation, my melancholy moods, my frustration, and my sadness when I do not feel like I can tell anyone?
I have wrestled with these thoughts because my problems seem tiny when measured against the magnitude of family tragedy my siblings have just crawled through. My issues are minuscule when measured against my grandparent’s health and the wealth of my Dad’s business or the safety and security of my sister and Mum’s job. As the youngest member of the family I am left thinking, desperately praying and documenting the events around me.
I am a 19-year-old university student, I have a part time job, no clue what a bill looks like and I am the one that is finding it hard to sleep. I am the one worrying, I am the one praying, I am the one getting sadder and sadder. I am the one shedding every tear as the painful stories flow to my ears and retreating to my knees.
Where am I supposed to turn? How do express my pain in a time when everyone around me is hurting much more? How do I tell them that I am praying for them? How do I support them and sympathise with them? How do I say that I feel their pain when I know nothing like it and when my struggles seem so small?
Crying out to God
Perhaps the writer of Psalm 46 would empathise with me.
Psalm 46 is rousing, it is passionate, and it is pleading. I believe that it was written from a place of pain, of anguish, of self-reflection. It opens with:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3 NIV)
I do not know about you but through these verses I see the face of the writer streaming with tears, as he spills his fears on the page. He writes about the earth giving way, the mountains quaking and the waters roaring, he describes the entire world contracting, changing, and moving ferociously around him.
But somehow, he does not fear. Somehow, in some way he keeps it together and he has hope.
He does not just show his hope here either, it is all the way through the Psalm. In verse 4 he pins down where his hope comes from :“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.”
In verses 7 and 11 he reminds us of the protection of God: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
In verse 9 he reflects on the peace of God: “He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.”
Perhaps most importantly verse 10 echoes the anthem shout of God: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.”
Hope from God
Amidst the raging noise of the world around him, the Psalmist reminds himself and us of our hope, he pinpoints where it comes from, he recounts God’s protection and recalls his thirst for peace.
Most powerfully he reminds himself to be still in the presence of God, and he stirs hope within his heart. The Psalmist says that no matter how the world around him may act and react, he will stand strong, he will be courageous, because he trusts in God.
The message of this Psalm can be summarised by Psalm121:1-2 which says:
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
A challenge for us
Psalm 46 presents a tangible challenge to me. It says to me that I should not feel inadequate, but instead I should be confident because my God is my protector, my comfort, my peace, my fortress, and my hope. Perhaps more than that it says that he is my grandparent’s peace, my siblings’ comfort, the fortress around my family and the peace in each of our hearts.
Psalm 46 says to me that I should quit carrying everyone, that it is not my job; it is God’s. The ones around me love me, and even now they don’t think my feelings are silly, they probably feel the same. It says to me that we should be honest with one another as each of us bow our knees and look to our ultimate hope; God himself. It says that we will get through this turmoil, step by honest step together, as one family, as one body, with one heart and one faith in our God; who is with us now.
How does Psalm 46 challenge you?