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In the worst of times, Israel's place of safety

July 4, 2022

Daily Scripture

Psalm 46:1-3, 11

1 God is our refuge and strength,
a help always near in times of great trouble.
2 That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart,
when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea,
3 when its waters roar and rage,
when the mountains shake because of its surging waves.

11 The LORD of heavenly forces is with us!
The God of Jacob is our place of safety.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

We often hear these words at funerals or at times of serious illness, and they certainly belong there. But ancient Israel lived in a violent, dangerous part of the world: “In the psalm, [earthquakes or tsunamis] are images for the tumult of the nations.” Goldingay went on to note that in the final phrase, “the Hebrew says God is ‘much to be found,’ easy to find. You just have to turn to him.” * God stands above and beyond all the scary forces in this world. God is our place of safety.

  • We Americans have seen our comfortable, seemingly untouchable lives impacted, first by a global pandemic that we still hope will not again mutate into a more dangerous form. Secondly, as that threat seemed to recede, we now feel the effects of Russia’s violent attack on their peaceful neighbors in Ukraine on food, fuel and other things. How does the psalm writer’s phrase “we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart” speak to your heart?
  • The whole of Psalm 46 repeated the phrase “The LORD of heavenly forces is with us” twice. Eugene Peterson’s brilliant paraphrase of the Hebrew phrase was “GOD-of-angel-armies protects us.” ** If you love any of the current crop of superhero stories, think about the psalmist’s daring image in showing all earthly forces finally unable to overpower the angel army God commands. What makes it good news for you that the “GOD-of-angel-armies” is on your side?

Lord God, so many things in this world feel scary, and you don’t always wave a magic wand to make them all vanish. Help me more fully understand and trust the ways in which you are my “place of safety”—always. Amen.

GPS Insights

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Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood serves on the Worship Experience team at Church of the Resurrection. She loves all things related to worship and enjoys working with our talented team of staff and volunteers. One of her favorite things to read about and study are stained glass windows, and she considers herself very blessed to work and worship in a place with such a magnificent window.

In my experience, there are two types of “getting stuck.” The first is immediate-–like when you drive your car into a snowbank or your tractor into the mud. The second is gradual-–your life choices lead you into circumstances that slowly get you stuck. It’s sort of like standing in quicksand-–you don’t realize you’re stuck until you’re really stuck.

In either case, decisions I’ve made are often what leads me to those sticky situations. And most often it’s the subtle sin of pride that’s the root cause. Pride is a scary type of sin because it can be so stealthy and subtle. Many of us would say we are not prideful, but often we make poor decisions that lead us to getting stuck because we think we’re doing fine living life on our own. Pride speaks to our hearts in such a way that we don’t know it’s even changing our hearts. We make one choice and things go well, we take a risk and there’s great reward, and all of the sudden we find ourselves feeling like we can live life on our own, without a savior-–until we get stuck.

Not only can pride lead me to make poor choices, it can also keep me stuck for a very long time. It can keep me from even admitting there’s a problem or that I need God to rescue me from the situation I find myself in.

I’m not sure where the sin of pride comes from, what leads me to naively think I don’t need God every day. I do know that in this world we’re often praised for our accomplishments, rewarded for our displays of independence. This makes it so easy to think we don’t need God-–until we do. When I’m stuck, I definitely need God’s great mercy, grace, and strength to get me out. God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness, and I’ve learned that trying to get unstuck on my own just leads me to getting stuck even deeper.

Now for the really great news. When I cry out to God to help me get unstuck, He is gracious and loving and helps me to become free. Getting unstuck isn’t always easy, and often God requires that I put in a lot of work to get unstuck, but the freedom from the sticky situation is immediate as long as I rely on His strength to see me through. That’s why when we realize we need God and surrender, we feel freedom…even if we’re still working our way out of the mud. His perfect strength in my weakness is the only thing that will ever get me unstuck.

I’d like to say I’ve learned this lesson enough to never get stuck again. But the truth is, God is continually teaching me to rely on Him. It means every day asking God to deliver me from my pride, saying, “God, I simply can’t do this on my own. I need you.” It doesn’t mean I won’t ever get stuck again, but hopefully the time between sticky situations becomes much longer.

I don’t know what sort of stuck you feel in your life right now, but I do know God is there to free you and deliver you. As I’m writing, I’m thinking of an old song by Stephen Curtis Chapman. The lyrics are: “His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on. Raised in His power, the weak become strong. His strength is perfect. His strength is perfect.” (Click here to hear Chapman’s song.)

May God’s perfect strength pull you out of whatever’s got you stuck.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* John Goldingay, Psalms for Everyone, Part 1: Psalms 1–72. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013, p. 148.

** Peterson, Eugene H. The Message Numbered Edition Hardback. Navpress. Kindle Edition. Click here to hear how Chris Tomlin used that phrase in his song “Who Shall I Fear?”