Season 12 - Week 4
“Psalm 46 - He is more than enough”
But what if?…
Ever find your mind playing that game? You’re trying to settle, let your mind relax and switch off, trying to think you have everything you need to covered - but your mind won’t rest.
Anxiety can be such a nuisance in those moments. You see its job is to make sure your mind focuses on the things that might be important - that you don’t miss anything you might need to do. So it’s very hard to ignore, and feels uncomfortable, or even unpleasant. And it triggers your mind to switch on - but in a very focused ‘buzzy’ way. When anxiety is high thoughts can swirl round and round our head so its hard to distract ourselves or think about something else.
Another problem with anxiety is that it is on the same physiological scale as stress. So when our stress baseline is raised - even if that is because good things are happening - if we’re busy and pressed and have lots going on, little things can trigger anxiety in a way they wouldn’t usually. So our minds become hyperactive and twitchy and small triggers can push into what feel like anxiety overreactions. And if that period when life is busy or demanding or stressful carries on, that raised baseline starts to feel more and more like we’re always a little bit anxious - like those worries never totally go away but smoulder away in the background.
And then there’s this season. Re-entry - release, new normal - call it what you will, it is a time when anxiety is more of a problem than usual. Because our minds got used to a new way of living - and linked that with staying safe - returning to what used to be normal will involve a lot of things your mind needs to warn you about - just in case you need to change your behaviour or act or react in some way. Add to that the stress of change - and of course the uncertainty of this time - because we don’t know what to expect in so many areas at the moment - what the autumn and winter will bring, who will turn up to that event you’re running this evening, where things will be come January, whether your own next LFT will still be negative … there are so many things that we don’t know.
So how do we manage in this time when it feels like all that worry makes your head spin, like a big hit of emotional vertigo? Well, when life throws you off balance and you feel dizzy with everything going on - focus on something that ISN’T moving.
Take a moment to read psalm 46. Read it a few times, to give your mind time to absorb the words. You might want to read it out loud, read it with another person, read it in a few different versions or just read it and then sit in quiet and let your mind rest in those words for a moment.
Ever got caught in a massive downpour? Found yourself in an unexpected deluge and run for the nearest shelter? That’s the word used to describe God in that first verse. He’s a shelter - a safe place you can take cover and in life’s storms. But its not just about hiding away - when we take shelter in God the psalm reminds us that what we find is also a source of the thing we need most in tough moments - courage and strength. God is a source of help to us - someone alongside us, so in those moments we’re not alone - and neither are we left just managing in our own strength. As the passion translation puts it, he is “more than enough and always available”
Take a moment, wherever you are, to reflect on that. In the things you face and the uncertainty of this moment - in any storms coming - God will be there with you, alongside you, walking with you, like a massive spiritual umbrella to protect you from the worst of it, and bring courage and wisdom in your walk. The same God who created the world and everything in it. The same God who calmed storms when Jesus was on the earth. The same God who is the essence of light and hope and life - and can bring breakthrough in any circumstance, and make the possible possible.
So, verse 2 carries on: therefore we will not fear. Managing anxiety isn’t about some act of incredible willpower or superhuman emotional strength. Nor is it about denial, just ignoring troubles and challenge. It is about finding something secure you can anchor in no matter what else is going on. The verse continues - in the NIV ‘though the give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. A literal translation of the psalm would be ‘though the earth may change’. So much has changed in the last 18 months. And whilst literal mountains may not have fallen into literal seas, many of the foundational things we trusted and assumed about the world and ourselves have. And you might have felt like the waves were surging over your head - like maybe you or others you cared about might go under. Maybe you still fear that. But this psalm is a promise - find your shelter and security and strength in God and even if that happens, your fears can be settled in God.
Why not pause again and take a moment to share with God the things that are in your mind that are uncertain in the coming days and weeks. The things you are worried about, the things you can’t control. And remind yourself for a second of just how dependable God is - he is your rock, he will not be shaken even if other things are. It might help to play a worship song that helps remind your mind of that - try ‘The goodness of God’ or ‘Faithful one’ or something else that comes to your mind.
Now verses 4-9 are often those people mumble through slightly when reading this one. I mean there you were being reassured about how solid and dependable God is and suddenly it starts going on about rivers and wars?! But actually what this is about is a really important truth in turbulent times - like the river in verse 4, God and God’s story flow through our world, no matter what is happening. And as verse 5 says, if God is within ]that story], things will not fall. This is so important in anxious times when every media story seems to predict another possible catastrophe that could be just round the corner. There is a bigger, better story playing out, flowing through our world. So when you hear those anxiety provoking predictions - remember God.
The passion translation puts it beautifully in v5: “God is in the midst of his city, secure and never shaken. At daybreak his help will be seen with the appearing of the dawn.” Why not take a moment to pray now - for the people and places you live and work in? Pray for the tough things going on - and speak the power and promise of God’s story over them.
And finally - verse 10 is a great place to pause before you go back to the demands of today. And it is written as a command from God: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Did you know the ancient hebrew actually means something more accurately translated as ‘let go’ ‘relax’ or simply ‘cease’. What are you holding too tightly today. What is God nudging you to let go and leave with Him today? The passion translation puts it like this: “Surrender your anxiety. Be still and realize that I am God.”
So before you finish this moment of reflection, take some time to be still. Set a timer and put aside some time - even if it is just a couple of minutes - to sit in stillness with the God who surrounds you, in whose shelter you can find courage and strength, the God who is more than enough for whatever you face today.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
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.
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.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
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.
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.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Take a moment, wherever you are, to reflect on that. In the things you face and the uncertainty of this moment. And that God will be there with you, alongside you, walking with you.
What are you holding too tightly today. What is God nudging you to let go and leave with Him today?
you alone are holy,
you who work wonders!
You are strong, you are great,
you are the Most High,
you are the almighty King,
you, holy Father, King of heaven and earth.
Lord God: you are Three and you are One,
you are goodness, all goodness,
you are the higest Good,
Lord God, living and true.
You are love and charity, you are wisdom,
you are humility, you are patience,
you are beauty, you are sweetness,
you are sefety, you are rest, you are joy,
you are our hope
and our delight,
you are justice, you are moderation
you are all our wealth
and riches overflowing.
You are beauty, you are gentleness,
you are our shelter, our guard
and our defender,
you are strength, you are refreshment,
you are our hope.
you are our faith.
you are our love,
you are our complete consolation,
you are our life everlasting,
great and wonderful Lord,
all powerful God, merciful Savior!