Pastor Jim Kingry March 25, 2020 Read Psalm 46
As we all face a new and ever-changing world in this time of the Covid-19 crisis, it is easy to feel disoriented, anxious, and perhaps alone and disconnected. The Psalmist writes these words in Psalm 46 to describe such a time and to remind us that God is with us.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains
fall into the heart of the sea.” Psalm 46:1-2
Mountains falling into seas—a vivid picture of life being turned upside down. In the time that this was written, mountains were often seen as points of reference to help guide those who were navigating the seas. When they were out of sight, it was easy to get disoriented and perhaps lost.
I have done quite a bit of fishing on Lake Cumberland in my day. The Lake has 1,200 miles of shoreline and literally hundreds of branches, nooks, crannies and the sort. During the daytime, it is easy to see familiar houses, cell towers and the like on the tops of surrounding hills and cliffs. When you see them you know where you are. Nighttime is a different story. All those very familiar points of reference are hard to see. I confess, my fishing partners and I have had a few anxious moments on some of our night fishing expeditions getting back to the boat ramps. (Of course today, we live with GPS which makes things much easier.)
When things change rapidly familiar points can get disrupted, and we can get disoriented and anxious. In this time, there are real concerns about the health of those around us and even our own health. We have concerns about our health-care workers and first responders. (A stark reality for my family with both Shelia and Kristen working in the medical field. I pray for them daily as well as for all medical personnel and all the sick).
There is much concern about employment situations, finances, education, childcare and the health of businesses, just to name a few. These are real concerns and it is easy to get anxious over them.
So the Psalmist begins, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…
The picture word indicated by “refuge” literally is of a boat in the midst of the storm seeking the safety of a harbor. It is God’s invitation for us to come and seek refuge in Him and His strength. It is also an invitation to come as we are with our concerns, anxieties, and even our praise and thanks.
It probably should come as no surprise that a fisherman, Simon Peter, gives us a beautiful expression of what we can do as we come before Jesus with our concerns, anxieties and all. He simply writes, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7
Now the word “cast” in this short memorable scripture (and I encourage you to memorize it), is literally the image of a fisherman casting a net into the sea.
Peter and Jesus had spent some days fishing together on the Sea of Galilee. They also had spent three years together in a teacher/disciple relationship which obviously led to Peter’s recognition of Jesus as both Savior and Lord. One of the deepest things that Peter learned and experienced in his relationship with Jesus was how much Jesus “cared for him”—or can we simply say “loved him.” Peter was confident he could cast any concern or anxiety upon Jesus because of this.
Just as Peter had often felt the twine of the net and then cast and released it to the sea, he now could do the same with the concerns and anxieties of his heart. Peter encourages us to do so as well–that we might actually name these concerns and anxieties and cast and release them to Jesus. And then as we draw the net back, we ask the One who cares for us for His peace, comfort, strength, fortitude, healing and wholeness. I have discovered in my life that specifically naming these concerns or writing them in a prayer journal is my way of casting the net.
Now the fishing nets that the disciples used were often larger than what we think of a casting net today. Usually it took two persons and sometimes even two boats to handle them. I think that this is apropos for us as well today. While we certainly need to go to Christ individually with all the things on our hearts, we also have each other. God does something very powerful when we pick up a phone and talk to someone or meet with them in person and simply share our concerns and burdens. The burdens and challenges do not seem near has heavy because as Paul says we are helping to “carry each others burdens.” Gal. 6:2a Together, we can carry these things to God in prayer as well. In this time of sharing we discover that we are not alone.
For families who are at home together, take some time each day to share with one another. Share the things that you are thankful for and the concerns or anxieties that you have. Give these to God each day. Ask for His peace, strength, and His other gifts.
For those who are home alone, share your thanks and concerns with God; but also, reach out to others during this time. Call another church member and share in a conversation. There is nothing like hearing another voice that brings us into deeper connection with one another and God.
In preparation to watch my Aunt Ruth’s memorial service today, my sister, Mary Ann, my sister-in-law, Torrey, and my nephew, Emory, all shared in a Skype session yesterday as a “trial run.” We are all going to be able to watch the service on our phones or computers at 1pm today via my sister’s computer.
What is interesting is that the “trial run” became a 45-minute time of sharing between the four us. Sharing our feelings about Aunt Ruth, catching up with things going on in each family, and noting how different life is at the time. We even took time to show one another our pets and decorations around the house. We laughed a lot, cried a little, and just enjoyed each others’ presence. In all of this came a deep sense that God is with us. He is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1-2
We are all in this together. So let each us take time to check on one another, to call one another, text, or whatever way you choose to communicate with others.
And let us all know and experience that “the Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress!” Psalm 46:7