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      The nations are in an uproar… Be still.

      Psalm 46 New Revised Standard Version

      God is our refuge and strength,
       a very present help in trouble.
      Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
       though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
      though its waters roar and foam,
       though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah

      There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
       the holy habitation of the Most High.
      God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
       God will help it when the morning dawns.
      The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
       he utters his voice, the earth melts.
      The Lord of hosts is with us;
       the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

      Come, behold the works of the Lord;
       see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
      He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
       he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
       he burns the shields with fire.
      10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
       I am exalted among the nations,
       I am exalted in the earth.”
      11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
       the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

      “The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter”-this sounds almost like it were written with the COVID19 crisis in mind.  Never in my lifetime can I remember a single event that has affected the entire world the way that this virus has.  Everything is uncertain.  It feels like the ground is moving under our feet.

      Psalm 46 may not have been written in response to the Coronavirus, but it remind us of two important things.  First, this is not the first time that the nations have been in an uproar.  Major, world-shaking events happened in Bible times, and have continued to happen since then.  Approximately 100 years ago, my wife’s grandmother lost both of her parents to the Spanish Flu—a pandemic, which killed 17 million to 50 million people world wide.  In World War II, approximately 75 million people died, and more recently, while the terrorist attacks for 9/11 killed far fewer people, they also had huge ripple effects, which have fundamentally changed the way people in the U.S. and around the world live our lives, not to mention triggering further violence and war which has continued to this day.  World-shaking events are nothing new.

      More importantly, Psalm 46 reminds us that, while God may not choose to miraculously intervene to bring suffering to a halt, God does promise to be with us in our suffering—in our times of fear and uncertainty.  Just as Jesus came to be “Emmanuel—God with us,” to enter into our suffering and even to suffer a painful death for us, Psalm 46 reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  “God is in the midst of the city… God will help it when the morning comes.”  “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

      God’s presence is not always easy to see, but what we see is often determined by where we are looking, and what we are looking for.  Online searches relating to Coronavirus are dominating the trending topics lists, and 90% of news broadcasts are addressing the virus as well.  It is good to stay informed, but I would suggest that we should also spend some time searching for God.

      “Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46 tells us.  Try this exercise for 5 minutes: Sit comfortably in a quiet place.  Close your eyes, and focus for a few minutes on your breath, not trying to change your breathing, but just paying attention to its motion.  Then, let these words from Psalm 46 be your meditation and your mantra.  As you breathe, slowly repeat the phrase, “Be still, and know that I am God!”  As the phrase feels more familiar, progressively shorten it—“Be still, and know…”, then “Be still…”, finally, “Be…”


      Pastor Kevin

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