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Across the Pastor’s Desk: Who stands with us during hard times?

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Todd Walsh

Todd Walsh

 

Psalm 46 has popped into my head of late. I have to admit it is one of my favorite psalms. It is dramatic and real. Some of the reality described in it is not pleasant, but there is a refrain to it that is most pleasing and lands comforting echoes through the ages.

The refrain of Psalm 46 is, “The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

We are living in frightening and challenging times. Psalm 46 speaks to such times, and its refrain brings comfort and a way through hard times.

The psalmist names the theme with the first words.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” A tone and direction are set. And that tone is set against a reality.

“Therefore, we will not fear though the earth should change.” Those words of nearly 3,000 years ago ring true and speak to the headlines of this day. We have a way forward and that way forward is with our God.

One might be inclined to say to the proposition I have just named, “You’re dreaming.” How much of human history is filled with people who makes dreams reality? That is our goal these days. Is there any other choice but to make this dream reality?

This psalmist lived in a world turned into misery, yet the psalmist sought the help of the one who made the world. This psalmist believed this God walked in the midst of the living.

Psalm 46 turns to speak of God protecting and saving “the holy city, the holy habitation of the most high.” Jerusalem then stood as that place. Today those who ascribe to the Christian religion say the place where God dwells is in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Those who claim faith in Jesus believe he dwells within them.

A little child who says, “I have Jesus in my heart,” is making a profound statement of the place of God in our lives. We know our guide. We know our inspiration. We know our hope. We know our savior, and we know why the psalmist jumps to the refrain, “The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

Psalm 46 concludes with an invitation: “Come now, and behold the works of the Lord.” We are then given an image of God destroying the instruments of destruction humans have devised on this earth. I do not see COVID-19 as an act of God or a human contrivance; it is a dangerous disease. God has given us the gift of modern medicine to address it and the compassion to care for one another in these difficult days.

The psalm concludes with a remarkable event. God speaks.

“Be still and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations. I am exalted in all the earth.” These words are another invitation to come together to see and be part of God’s life among us. We are invited to speak a word and live a life that comes from the God who gives life each day. Ours is a God who brings life from death and light from darkness. We are blessed to dare to do the same with our words and actions each day.

We are about to enter a most peculiar Holy Week and Easter season as God’s people gather by other means, both modern and miraculous. Yet we can witness together the new life of our risen Lord. We can all join the final words of Psalm 46.

“The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

Todd Walsh is the director of spiritual care services at Thorne Crest Senior Living Community in Albert Lea.