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
"The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters His voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." - Psalm 46:6-7
"“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress".- Psalm 46:10-11
Several weeks have passed since I last wrote a meditation. Given that we remain in semi-lockdown, one might think I would have a surplus of time to write and a dearth of the things about which to write. Oh, no… The opposite is true. In fact, I have spent an inordinate amount of time watching and reading the news online. Perhaps this isn’t a problem for you, but it’s like a train wreck to me. I can see it coming, and I can’t look away. Morbid curiosity, I suppose, holds me enthralled, and more than once, events provoked me to start a meditation, only to realize I really just wanted to argue.
Thinking about all that is going on around us, about the conflicts of opinion and perspective, including, I believe, some dangerously confused ideology, I came to an important conclusion: a person shouldn’t watch too much news or read too many current events articles. This maxim probably applies exponentially during a presidential election year.
The Hebrew king about whom the most is known, for whom the most historical evidence exists is… not David. It’s Omri, who lived in the ninth century BC. If you’ve never heard of King Omri, it’s probably because his entire reign is covered in less than ten verses in 1 Kings 16. He bought a hill, built on it, named it Samaria, did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and slept with his fathers. His primary distinction in Scripture is that he fathered Ahab, who was likely Israel’s worst, wicked king, as well as the husband of the infamous Jezebel. But I digress… Back to Omri, a king who was so unimportant in the history of the Israelites that he was dismissed with the phrase, “you can read about him in the Chronicles of the Kings…”. He barely got a mention, although today, more evidence exists for Omri than exists for David, the apple of God’s eye, the most faithful and influential king ever to rule the Jewish people, the prototype prefiguring the King of kings. From ancient coins discovered from his reign, we know what Omri looked like with more certainty than we know what Jesus looked like (though early icons of Jesus give us a fairly consistent approximation).
In the midst of the clashing cacophony of opinions, rage, hurt, and conflict, Christians need to remember Who makes a name great and Who elevates human beings. We have chapters and chapters of the Old Testament devoted to King David, and he even retains prominence in the New Testament through the ancestry of Jesus. But world history cannot really account for him, cannot verify much of anything about him. King Omri, on the other hand, with his face imprinted on coins, exemplifies the difference between worldly acclaim and godly acclaim. History belongs to God, and it is He Who unfolds it for His purposes, even through the arrogance and consequences of human freedom and sin.
Trusting that God is at work in the midst of human history, in the midst of our world today is critical for us if we hope to live faithful lives. Without that confidence, it’s easy for events to overwhelm us and leave us feeling anxious, fearful, and depressed. However, what we see is never the measure of what God is doing. Some of God’s greatest actions occurred in moments to which no one can bear witness. Jesus was seen after the Resurrection, but no one saw the Resurrection take place. The Roman Empire stood impervious and mighty, with Roman officials holding life and death authority over every person within its borders. The Jewish leaders acted with manipulative, conniving, and self-serving ends in sight. Disease had few barriers, and the people were defenseless against the many powers that held no respect or concern for human life. Nothing, nothing, was truly trustworthy and dependable for Jesus’ disciples and followers. Even so, God wrought the salvation of the whole of the human race and, indeed, the entirety of His creation, while the kingdoms and rulers continued to rant and rage in oblivion.
Nothing much has changed. I told someone recently that, for as much as like to study history, it turns out I would much rather read about it than live it. I do think we are living during a time when the course of human life is being redirected, though not in a good way. Without pessimism at all, I must confess I do not believe the change is for the better as we degenerate into pockets of lawlessness and violence built upon lies and hatred. Never have I felt American society to be so subject to some invisible puppet master’s cruel strings, drawing all into an undesirable macabre and vulgar dance. And yet…
And yet, remember: “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Whatever illusions of importance exist within the leaders of our world, between nations and kingdoms, let those illusions not be our own. As the winds of change whip into a frenzied hurricane, let us run to the fortress of our God, where we are reassured, strengthened, and given safe harbor. The chaos created in our culture cannot reach the refuge to which we are called in Christ Jesus. Rest there, be silent, and hear the reassurance from our Father, “Be still and know that I am God.” There is victory in that whispered promise, but it is not necessarily a victory that can be seen by the world. The victory is the triumph of life over death to which so few of the mighty and powerful are privy.
One day, in God’s time, God will be exalted among the nations, and all the kings and rulers will bow before Him. But know this: so will we. We do not follow Christ because we will ultimately get to be the victors over those who seem to win in this world. We are called to follow Christ because He saves us and gives us life. We bear witness to our salvation in hopes that others will also enter into the refuge and strength of our God, our fortress and our help. To whatever extent we experience victory, it is solely by hanging onto the bottom threads of Jesus’ robes, and that is far more than we deserve.
Christian, you are so loved. Do not be afraid, and if fear begins to well within, retreat into the refuge of God’s triumphant might and power over all the earth. Hang tight to Him, and do not allow yourself to confuse ultimate matters with the penultimate. Nations can rage, and kingdoms can fight. We have no control over that, but in the middle of it all, be still, accepting the peace that comes from knowing that only God is God, not any king or politician or military power. Choose to be subject to Him in prayerful obedience and allow Him to guide you through the minefield of today’s arrogances, in the certain knowledge that He will lead you safely to Himself.
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau