A Reflection on Psalm 46
By Glory Guy Psalm 46 – God is Our Fortress “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 If you know me, you know that I don’t do boats. As a little kid, I loved being on the water, and as an adult I still love being IN the water, but boats of most varieties are not my thing (kayaks are fine, but that’s a different story). I have a sensitive stomach, so I don’t like the feeling of constant motion that comes with the rocking of a boat on the water. The feeling of going up and down, the swaying associated with sea legs is not my cup of tea, so if I can avoid the feeling of being on a boat, I do. A few weeks ago, I flew 16,000 miles in a week, for a quick trip from Kibuye to the United States to sign some papers for graduate school, and over the course of this trip I acquired a severe bout of vertigo. Not an episode of vertigo that lasts a couple hours and is relieved by a combination of medication and lying down in a dark room, but a full on twenty-four days of non-stop vertigo, and honestly it is still not totally gone. This was a nightmare for me, I was bedridden whenever I wasn’t standing in front of a classroom, and I spent most of my time in the classroom with my head on my desk trying to make the world stop spinning. In a particularly bad moment, I fell down flight of tile hotel stairs because I just wasn’t able to get my footing. The medication that is usually given for vertigo made my condition worse, like standing up and immediately toppling over, worse. After several other trial medications and no results, we decided to see what a steroid dose would do to my system. Through all of this, my frustration with the Lord was through the roof. A lot of my prayer looked like, “Lord, what are you doing? Why is this happening? I feel like a shell of a human, make it stop, I can’t do this anymore, please.” No change, world spinning. During week three in anger, “Are you even here?” Sometimes a question, sometimes a challenge. Everyday check ins from neighbors and friends in the States, “any better?’ The only way I could describe it to those around me was to say I felt like I was on a boat. Flipping through the Scriptures, I landed on Psalm 46, one of my favorites. A Psalm that proclaims hope in all circumstances, one that remembers the power and the presence of our Father on high with great conviction. Reading through the words that I had prayed through many times, I found myself with a new perspective on verse 2 “Therefore we will not fear though the Earth gives way.” Sometimes, a misalignment of the inner ear convinces my finite body that the Earth is giving way, that there is motion where there is none. The lack of control that comes with earthquakes is mimicked by my inner ear, along with the fear, the physical imbalance, and the wonder at what the Lord is doing. Astounded by and jealous of the Scripture writer’s ability to believe and proclaim the promises of the Lord, I found myself asking “Is God actually my fortress? Is He actually a present help in my trouble?” It certainly didn’t feel like it. When Sunday morning rolled around, I realized it was Easter. This changed everything. The existence of this day means that regardless of how many times I cry out to the Lord saying “are you even here?” the answer will always be yes. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, He took the separation that I deserve. So, even when it doesn’t feel like it, I know, with complete certainty, that the Lord is with me. He promised, and in Jesus’s death He keeps His ultimate promise, His great rescue of His people. Jesus cried “It is finished” on the cross for me, so that the girl face down in her bed in the dark at 3 pm knows that she is not alone. The world is spinning, but Jesus is on that boat with her. He was alone so I would never be. Maybe the Psalm 46 psalmist was also struggling to believe what is true, and the words are not written in shouted confidence on the spiritual mountain top, but from the pit, in the dark, promises whispered and preached over himself. A promise foretold, words spoken and written in hopes that they would be believed. The prayer of a weary and feeble heart like mine, reminding themselves of the goodness of God in the truth of His presence, repeated in verses 7 and 11, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” My fortress, my stabilizer, the one who is with me in the boat, whether literal or caused by the disruption of the inner ear. The words whispered in truth, we have nothing to fear, because He is with us, our safe place to hide.