I have a few favorite, go-to Psalms and Ps. 46 is one of them. In it, the Psalmist both recognizes the deep pain and fear this life causes us and God’s power to overcome those fears. In fact, this Psalm is almost schizophrenic as it vacillates back and forth between the power of God to shape this world and the peace that comes to every Christian heart. I cannot read this Psalm without hearing it in my head in two totally distinct voices: one of quiet calm and peace, the other of overwhelming power and authority.
We all have times when it feels like the earth is giving way, the mountains are quaking and falling into the sea, and the waters are roaring and foaming all around us. It may be illness or finances. It may be family issues or job related stress. It could be anxiety or depression. This world is filled with news and situations and people who will gladly convince us that the world is ending any minute now.
And then we pray, or go to church, or sing songs and hymns and hear of the quiet, bubbling river that runs through us, God’s holy place. We sing of God’s eternal presence and protection. And we are told again and again, “Be still and know that I Am God.” And what is happening outside the church’s walls and what is happening inside are mutually incompatible, impossible to reconcile. When times like that come, read once again Ps. 46 and hear this dichotomy sung again and again. Be still, quiet yourself and the voices of terror around you, crawl up into God’s holy and never-ending lap, a lap that can hold us all, and hear the words of calm and peace coming from the LORD Almighty who is with us, who is our fortress.