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How To Trust God - Even When It's Hard - A Study of Psalm 46


How To Trust God - Even When It's Hard


Do you trust God?

Does the way that you live your life reflect that you trust in God? Do your actions reflect that you trust in God?


Or, let me ask you this; Do you want to know how to trust God, even when life is hard?


The thing about trust is, the proof is in the pudding. It’s all well and good for us to say that we trust God when things around us are going well, but it’s another thing all together to trust Him when we feel like things are falling apart.


It’s easy to trust God when you’ve got things together. It’s easy to trust Him for provision when your job is secure. It’s easy to trust God with your children when they’re obedient, when they remain safe within the walls of your home or wrapped up in your embrace. It’s easy to trust Him for your marriage when things are firing right and when you can actually say that you genuinely like each other. It’s easy to trust God with your life when you’re healthy and strong. It’s easy to trust Him when you can see the path that has been laid before you and you can walk in confidence and surety of where you see He is leading you.


But it is another thing altogether to trust Him when you feel like your world is falling apart.


Do you trust God when you’ve lost your job, or when no matter how hard you work, there is no harvest from your labor? Do you trust Him with your children when, no matter how diligently you’ve prayed for them, and no matter how you’ve strived so hard to lead by example, they turn from everything right and good and seek after what the world has to offer?


Can you still trust God with your marriage when you’re not even sure who the person that you’re sleeping beside is, anymore? Can you trust God when your body is failing and falling apart, or with the diagnosis that you’ve been given?


How do you trust God when you have absolutely no idea what is going to happen in your distant or even near future? How do you trust God when your whole life is falling apart? How do you trust Him then?


I have to tell you, my initial response to this question, “Do you trust God?” is yes. I trust Him. I know that things aren’t always going to be easy. I know that I cannot expect that I will make it through this life unscathed. But even in difficulty, I still trust Him.


But as I dig a little deeper into this question, past my thoughts and feelings; as I look back over the weeks, months and years of my life, and into the actual practice of putting my trust in God, I've come to realize that even though I say I trust in God, my actions do not always measure up to my words. I've discovered that the external evidence of my life, does not always reflect the depth of trust I thought I had in God.


The depth of my trust was being measured according to my feelings. When my internal emotions felt positive and confident, my trust in God was strong. But when my internal emotions felt chaotic and overwhelmed, trusting God was a lot harder.


But, if we can only trust God when things are going well, do we really, trust Him?


How to trust God even when it's hard.


 

Psalm 46

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, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Selah.

Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields[d] with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Selah


As we begin to look at Psalm 46, it's important that we know it was written as a song. In reference to this Psalm, John Trapp, who references Martin Luther, shares this;

“Luther, when in greatest distress, was wont to call for this psalm, saying, “Let us sing the forty-sixth psalm in concert; and then let the devil do his worst.”

I don’t know that I truly grasped the poignancy of this Psalm, until reading this quote. It is a declaration of putting our hope and trust in God, knowing that, regardless of the circumstances, and no matter what the devil might throw at us, God is faithful and true to His Word.


God is faithful and true to His Word.

See, it is suggested that the language of the Psalmist is reflecting a time or circumstance when either his world was crashing down, or that he was just on the tail end of his world crashing down. This is so important for us to understand because, as speaker Steve Currie explains,

the crises noted in this Psalm, are two of the greatest existential threats known to the human being. Extreme natural menace and extreme political menace.

You and I, on some degree, are familiar with these struggles. We’ve just recently come out of a global crisis. The pandemic will have forever changed the way the world we know, exists. There is still much turmoil across the face of the earth. The beauty in that the Psalmist applies these extremes is that, if trust in God can be implicit in these extreme situations, it can also be applied in our every day situations.


This Psalm, this song, is divided beautifully around three notations; selah. This allows us to draw three summaries of the three different themes within the Psalm.


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, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Selah


The first theme portrays God being present among His people during natural crisis and describes Him as a place of refuge. It opens up with, God is our refuge and strength: While many other psalms begin with a description of the psalmist’s crisis, Psalm 46 begins with God’s provision. It begins with the focus on who God is rather than on the crisis.


I love this so much. Because, my tendency, whenever I’m experiencing trouble, whether large or small, is to focus on the problem; or to focus on my feelings about the problem. I come to Him knowing that He is good, and that He is able; I come to Him knowing that I’m allowed to come to Him and that He longs for me to come to Him, but I come with my problems first. I come to him with self at the forefront.


But this Psalmist, he’s got his priorities straight. He considers the most frightening, humbling natural phenomenon imaginable. He then makes the reasoned estimation that God is greater than them all, and fear before these would, in some way, rob God of some of His honor.


See, he comes to God right off the hop, acknowledging who God is. He acknowledges that He is a refuge and strength. He lays out that, God is ever-present, even in times of trouble. He knows that his God is faithful. He boldly proclaims who God is, and then, because of his trust in Him, declares that, regardless of the catastrophes that were among them, he would not fear. In spite of, whatever it was that was going on around him, he purposed to put his trust in the living God. He is stating that, whatever earthly calamity might possibly be thrown at them, God would continue to be their ever-present, refuge and strength. He is not talking about a God that resides in the heavens, looking down on us, ruling over us; he is referring to an ever-present God. A God that is near; close to the people He loves. The language he uses denotes an intimate relationship. He was able to put his trust in God because he experienced His ever-present closeness.


And let’s don’t forget about this little word, that I have been so very guilty of overlooking. Selah. Selah refers to a pause or a rest. Remembering that this Psalm is a written as a song, this selah could have been pause for an instrumental break; it is meant to give time to reflect on the thought-provoking magnitude of the words previously sung. Let me share with you David Guzik’s words from his commentary on Psalm 46;

The greatness of thought in this psalm was and is worthy of pause and careful thought.” Selah is saying, take notice. Don’t rush past this. This is good stuff. This is wisdom you need to pause and reflect on.

What does selah mean?

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Selah.


Verses 4-7, while still following the same progression as the first 3 verses, switch more to a politically centered crisis. But, it too, begins with a proclamation of God’s faithfulness and provision. What is so significant about this is that, the city the Psalmist is referring to when he speaks about a river whose streams make glad the city of God, is Jerusalem, the location of the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. But the thing is, Jerusalem had no river. It had only a few small streams.


The prophets though, anticipated the day when a mighty river would flow from the temple itself (Ezekiel 47:12, Revelation 22:1). This future reality is already in the mind of the psalmist. He praises God for something, rejoices in God for something, trusts in God for something, that has not yet, even come to pass.


He knows that, because God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved: Every single blessing and provision of the city of God comes because of God’s presence. And because of His presence, she is more firmly set than the earth which may be moved. The city is so established because God shall help her. In the face of political crisis, though nations may be in an up roar, though kingdoms may fall, the Psalmist’s trust is in God, who can cause the earth to melt at a single word form His mouth.


Again, don’t forget the Selah; the truths spoken in these last 4 verses are worthy of our pause and reflection.


Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Selah


If the dominant idea in the first section of the psalm was God as a refuge and help, here the emphasis shifts to a consideration of the glory of God. See, it’s already been established that God is good; that He cares for His people; that He is a refuge and a fortress for His people. It’s already proclaimed that we can put our trust in the God who sustains all things for His people, both natural and political alike. Now the Psalmist switches from proclaiming God’s goodness to us, to proclaiming His glory to the people.


Come and see! Look what He’s done! Look what He’s doing! He makes all wars cease to the ends of the earth! He breaks the bow! He shatters the spear and burns the shields with fire! Come and see!


We trust in God during our times of trouble knowing that He is with us and for us, but how much more will we rejoice in Him when He has put all things under His feet? Come and see what God has done!!! Come and see what He is doing!!!


Come and see what God has done!

And then God speaks.


Be still! And know that I am God!

Now, I think for most of us, we have the tendency to see this word from God as an invitation. We might see it as a picture of a mother holding a distraught child close to her breast, rocking gently, whispering softly in her child’s ear, “Be still, child. Be still; Mommy’s got you. You’re okay. Be still.” And I want you to know; God does that. He loves to pull His children close; to wrap them in His safe embrace. To whisper peace and comfort into troubled minds and hearts and souls. But in the context of this chapter, these words are not spoken as an invitation, they are spoken as an imperative; as a command. Be still!!


This is what David Guzik shares in his commentary,

“The idea is something like this: “As you know the glory and greatness of God, stop your mouth from arguing with Him or opposing Him. Simply surrender.”

And he shares two quotes that I found particularly relevant,

Be still…is not in the first place, comfort for the harassed but a rebuke to a restless and turbulent world: ‘Quiet!’ – in fact, ‘Leave off!’” (Kidner)
“In this setting, ‘be still and know that I am God’ is not advice to us to lead a contemplative life, however important that may be…. It means rather, ‘Lay down your arms. Surrender, and acknowledge that I am the one and only victorious God.’” (Boice)

This is what the message paraphrase says,


“Step out of the traffic! Take a long loving look at ME, your High God, above politics; above everything!”


It’s almost as though these words from God are a call for a response. It’s a call for us to respond to our knowledge of who God is, and more importantly, of our knowledge of who God is, for us.


See, the whole of this chapter, well, actually, the whole of God’s Word is about what God has done, is doing, and will do for us. All of Scripture is about God; but more precisely, it is about who God is for us. It is about His relentless, never ending, all-consuming love for mankind. It is about how continues to pursue us; how He longs for relationship with us; how He longs to fill us, sustain us, renew us; it about His desire to save us from ourselves, even to the point of sacrificing His perfect, Beloved Son, for us, even in the depth of our sin and in the magnitude of our depravity.


All of scripture is about God; about His love for mankind

From the beginning of time, God has been revealing Himself to us in either subtle or not subtle ways. He wants us. He wants relationship with us. He wants us to experience His goodness. He wants us to come to Him. Not just when things are good, but things are hard. And ugly. And painful. He wants us to come to Him when we feel like our world is falling apart. He wants us to find refuge in Him. He wants us to KNOW, that He is for us.


How though, do we do that? When things are hard? When we feel like we can’t see Him? When He feels so far away? When the storms around us seem to come crashing in on all sides?


Or maybe when things aren’t really terrible, but just... quiet? Maybe things aren’t bad, but rather, dry? How do we put trusting God to practice when we’re caught up in a storm or wandering in the desert? How do we actually trust Him when the storm rages on? Or when the desert never ends? How is He our refuge when we can’t actually feel Him? How do we trust Him when we can’t even find Him? How can we be still, and know that He is God, when nothing around us is right?


Our answers are found in Scripture.

  • “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

  • “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper.” Psalm 118:6-7

  • “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

  • The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18.

  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5.

  • “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18.

Knowing these Scriptures is one thing; knowing how to put them into practice is another.


See, I’ve tried to put my trust in God. I know that scripture says that He is close to the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit, but there are so many times when I haven’t felt him close. I know God has not given me a spirt of fear but of power, of love and of a sound mind, but, I’m often, still afraid. I know that I’m not supposed to fear what man can do to me because the Lord is with me and He is my helper, but, sometimes He doesn’t feel near; and I feel afraid. How do I actually live out the truth of these promises; of these commands when I feel like this? What am I doing wrong?


This is something I’m beginning to understand. I’ve got my priorities skewed. I’ve got my focus on the wrong person. When I’m in the middle of struggle; or fear; or temptation, I focus on how I’m feeling, or how I want to feel, or how I’m acting or how I should be acting. I’m focused on how to get out of the circumstances or situations I’m in. And while that might seem like it’s a good thing to be focused on, while it might seem normal and like the right thing to be doing, in all actuality, it’s selfishness. In all actuality, it’s sin. And the thing is, it never works. When I focus on me, or when I focus on the storm or the desert I’m in, my eyes have been taken off the only One in whom I can put my trust.


But when I switch my focus from myself and/or my problems, when I center them on God, on who He is, and on who He is for me, the trusting Him becomes easier. Actually, I have this idea that, if I were able to get my priorities straight, if I were to truly abide in Christ, if I actually lived out the command of Christ to deny myself, and take up my cross to follow Him, if I lived each day sheltered in the presence of the Most High God, trusting Him would not only be easier, it would be inevitable. If Christ really became ALL to me, how could I not, put my trust in Him?


So, let me ask you again; Do you trust God? Does the way that you live your life, reflect that you trust in God? Do your actions reflect that you trust in God? Does the external evidence of your life, reflect the depth of trust you say you have in God?


Are you able to stand in confidence of who God is, and of who He is for you, despite the chaos, the calamity, or the catastrophe around you? Are you able to Be still! and know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that He is God? That He is your ever-present refuge? That He will be exalted among the nations; among the earth and that He is for you?


The chapter ends with;


The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Selah


Let me leave you with this quote from Boice;

“On the day he died John Wesley had already nearly lost his voice and could be understood only with difficulty. But at the last with all his strength he could summon, Wesley suddenly called out, ‘The best of all is, God is with us.’ Then, raising his hand slightly and waving it in triumph, he exclaimed again with thrilling effect, ‘The best of all is, God is with us.’”

Our confidence is this, the same God who is exalted in all the earth, is with us. Personally. Intimately. We can put our trust in Him! God is with us! What more could we ever need?



Our confidence is this; God is with us!