Richard Coekin (CEO of Co-Mission and Senior Pastor of Dundonald Church) has written the following letter of encouragement.
Dear Co-Mission family,
GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH… SO WE DON’T NEED TO BE FRIGHTENED BY CORONAVIRUS (PSALM 46)
Now we’re in ‘lockdown’ – besieged by this dreadful Coronavirus pandemic. We may well feel afraid or be struggling to cope – whether bored and lonely in a flat, stressed by being cooped up with small children, or anxious as key workers heading onto the front line each day.
What could be more encouraging in a global crisis than Psalm 46? It proclaims the security of God’s people within the loving purposes of God. It doesn’t pretend Christians are immune from stress, sickness or death. But it reminds us that our loving heavenly Father is sovereignly directing everything, even a dangerous virus like Covid-19, for our spiritual good so that we become more like Jesus.
The psalm contains echoes of God’s deliverance of Israel from the Egyptians under Moses (Exodus 15) and from the Assyrians under Hezekiah (2 Kings 18). It also points forward to God’s marvellous deliverance from our sin – through his Son, Jesus Christ, dying in our place on the cross, to bring us peace with God.
The psalm was written to be sung in the temple of Jerusalem. (The expected response from the people is repeated in vv. 7 and 11). It proclaims God’s power amidst three kinds of turmoil, which we are also facing today:
- vv. 1–3: his power over creation to protect us amidst natural disasters such as a global pandemic;
- vv. 4–6: his power over history to protect us amidst national chaos such as a global economic crisis;
- vv. 8–10: his power over ideologies to protect us amidst cultural wars such as global secular atheism.
Here below, the psalm is broken up sentence by sentence, with a line of reflection and prayer for each. We could pray this on our own or with family and friends in the coming week…
LET US PRAY…
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Almighty God, our loving heavenly Father, we draw near to take refuge from the dangers we face, seek your strength in our weariness, and take comfort from the presence of your Spirit through whatever lies ahead.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Heavenly Father, we resolve to trust in your loving power, rather than be anxious or afraid – even when the world around us seems to be falling apart.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
We rejoice that a river of abundant spiritual life in Christ now gladdens our hearts in your presence, and that in death you will bring us home to yourself, safe and secure from the assaults of all our enemies.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
Though the nations are in chaos and human powers fail, we rejoice that your word is powerful to melt all earthly obstruction and so you will keep all your precious gospel promises to us.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
We are comforted to know you are the powerful Lord of hosts who defends us, the God who has always been a mighty fortress to our ancestors.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
We praise you for your glorious works in delivering your people from the Egyptians and the Assyrians, but supremely in redeeming us from our sin for eternal peace with you, by the sacrificial death of your Son.
10 He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’
We repent of faithless doubt and seek rest in you, for you alone are God on high and will one day be exalted by all nations and peoples when Christ returns.
11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
We take comfort from your presence and look to you for our protection and security in the days ahead, for we are you children in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose name we pray, AMEN.