“Delusional fears are one thing, but real calamity is quite another. Fear makes sense, unless we know what the psalmists know. God is every-present (or “ever-ready”) to help in the face of trouble. The singers call on two powerful images from Israel’s faith, both of which point to God’s great power and loving purposes.
The first image pictures the great fortress city that is God’s dwelling place, the seat of God’s universal reign. At the center of the world and above all other mountains (see Isaiah 2), its Eden-like waters flow to give security against siege warfare, but also to give life to all that it touches. (We see this river again in Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22 where abundance springs up constantly by its banks.) And the God who dwells in this city can melt creation with a shout as easily as establish it with a word.
The second image thrills to the marvel of God ending wars all over the world and piling their weapons on a bonfire. Certainly not all wars then or now have ended, yet God does end wars. Even more, God shares with us our longing for life and wholeness, shalom at its fullest, and has the will and the power to carry it out. For this reason, we can know that no disaster can overmatch God’s power, no calamity can outstrip God’s love. George Fox knew this, too, in his confidence that “the power of the Lord is over all” and that “an infinite ocean of light and love flow[s] over the ocean of darkness and death.”
So when our worlds are falling apart, in the face of puzzlement and pain, the psalmists urge, “Be still.” (Psalm 46:10 NIV) Pause a while. Step back. Take a deep breath. Don’t panic. Don’t conjure up frantic contingency plans. Don’t alarm the whole barnyard. Remember who you’re dealing with. Let God be God, “a bulwark never failing.” Trust that the God over all is with us among the icy chunks. Lean into God. Be still.”
[published in Howard Macy, Stepping in the Light (Friends United Press)]
Submitted by Howard Macy; for the entire excerpt see Lenten Reader, pages 96-98.
For further reflection, today we’re reading John 18:1-9 in our community lenten reader.