One of my favorite books of the Christian Bible is Psalms. When I was the senior pastor of Sweet Home Baptist Church in Perrine, South Miami-Dade, there were summers when I preached exclusively from this book. Every imaginable emotion from happiness to anger to despair can be found in the pages of this Old Testament hymnal.
What I find refreshing in the message of Psalm 46 is that although pain, problems and perplexities are real, God’s presence is just as real. God is our refuge even in the midst of trials, troubles and tribulations. So when troubles come, this psalm reminds us to retreat to our refuge. This particular passage served as inspiration for Dr. David Jeremiah, powerful television minister and the author of A Bend in the Road, when he was diagnosed with cancer in 1999. My brother, the Rev. Alfred J. Richardson, recommended Jeremiah’s book to me when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2003. After reading that book, I immediately retreated to my refuge. Why? Because I realized afresh that God is an awesome, ageless and accessible refuge in times of trouble.
But not only did I retreat to my refuge. I also was reminded by this psalm that when troubles come to us, we have to rediscover our strength. While God is working externally, there is also some work going on internally. If we have a personal relationship with the Almighty, there is a secret power within us. There is a river flowing deep inside of us. And, there is also a sacred presence within us.
In light of the natural disasters over the past years: Hurricane Katrina, tsunamis, and earthquakes that have taken the lives of thousands around the world, there is an ever-present anxiety that comes from a sense that nothing is predictable, stable or sure. Yet, in the midst of these catastrophic events, we hear story after story of survivors, who refused to be moved by their circumstances.
Such should be the case in the lives of God’s people when violent storms blow through our lives like hurricanes, when our finances are personal tsunamis or our relationships quake at their very foundations. Dr. Katurah Jenkins Hall, psychologist and professor at the University of South Florida, asks, “How can we find peace and the courage to pray, praise, and persevere?” She answers her own question: “There is a river in you that quietly flows through the crevices of wreckage, the cracks of rubble, and into the crannies of the lowest valleys of your life. God is in the midst of her and she shall not be moved. That river is the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
So, regardless of the chaos around you, allow the streams of that river to flow through your circumstances and give you peace — the peace of His presence, the peace of His protection, and the peace of His promise to assist. There is a river in you — so, be still and know that God is present.