*Last week I heard an resiliency expert talk about how there are three things that best predict resiliency in individuals.
*If these three things are true about you, you are most likely going to thrive and rebound from difficulties. *Resiliency is our ability to “bounce” back from trouble.
*Here they are….
1. You have at least one positive relationship. (healthy friendship, marriage)
2. You belong to a group.
3. You have a clear (to you) life purpose.
“Yes to all three…likely to be highly resilient person.”
“No” to one or more…not resilient…no to all three…not likely to deal well with troubles, a much higher suicide risk.
*Doesn’t take amazing survival skills, deep psychological understanding to be resilient…it takes…friendship, community, and purpose.
*That shouldn’t surprise you if you are follower of Christ and take the Scriptures seriously.
*Having heart buddies, living in community, with a purpose larger than yourself…this is the way of life demonstrated by Jesus, and outlined in the Scriptures.
*Today’s Psalm is called a Psalm of confidence…it give a perspective on life that incorporates all three of these key resilience factors.
*There is going to be trouble in our lives…our ability to thrive is not most directly related to the amount and types of troubles we have…
*It is most directly tied to the choices we can make to live in relationship with God and others in the midst of troubles.
Psa. 46:1 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. Selah 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. Selah 8 Come and see the works of the Lord, 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 “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. Selah
*Look at three things from this Psalm that are perspective shaping thoughts:
1. We not just me. (Group)
2. In not out of trouble (Purpose)
3. Be still and Know God (Friendship)
1. We not just Me….A life of faith in community
*There are military units that are forming affinity groups…based on hobbies, interests, etc.
*They are being pushed, encouraged, funded by commanders…why?
*It’s a key factor in the health of military members…people need to be and feel a part of group.
*Isn’t the military a group? Can be for some…but the military is large…and this is about something local.
*It’s about a sense of community, acceptance, knowing and being known…feeling connected…being connected.
*Being a part of a group is hard wired into us…actually it is God-wired into us. *We are made for community.
*Sure we are part of the global Body of Christ…but we are made to live local. *All of the Psalms were written for use in community.
*Todays’ Psalm makes that fact abundantly clear.
*But I’ve read it for years and have subconsciously inserted “me” instead of we. *I have, until recently, missed this important point.
*If we personalize the Scripture…that’s good(apply it to myself)
*If we individualize it…that’s not good(remove the community context)
1…God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear 7…The Lord almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress
11…The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress
Eugene Peterson wrote ….”Our membership in the church is a corollary of our faith in Christ. We can no more be a Christian and have nothing to do with the church than we can be a human and not be in family…it is a part of redemption.”
*Many have developed an overly individualistic approach to faith.
*On the one hand it is healthy…If I take responsibility for myself…I must believe, I must decide myself. *On the other hand it is very unhealthy…If it becomes all “me and Jesus” not “we and Jesus”
*”I can worship anywhere…in this field, this gym.”
*”I don’t need a community, just me and Jesus.”
*You just don’t find this attitude in the Bible…in fact you find the opposite.
*You find …”We not me” is crucial in worship and the life of faith.
*Paul asked “How can one part of the body say it doesn’t need the rest of the body…this is irrational, unthinkable to him.
*Today’s Psalm is a Psalm of confidence in times of trouble and testing…but the context is confidence in community.
*God is our refuge and strength…therefore we will not fear.
*Fear and folly are contagious…faith and courage are as well.
*In community we are able to feed off each other’s faith and courage.
*When God pours confidence into your heart through another person…do not miss what has happened.
*God has done this…he has…as he often does…used one of his people…to touch you, to accomplish his purposes.
*”Oh God where are you?…right there, he is my provision, she is your answer.” *Be sure to not miss this…it is very, very important for your life and faith.
*His Spirit is revealed most fully in community with his people. *His Word unfolds and makes sense when applied in community.
*We will not do well on our own…but we don’t have to…he has given us the church.
*It is “we not me”
*You really have to get this…and there are many loud voices claiming faith in Christ speaking against this.
*It is neither biblical nor rational to think we do not need church…the Body of Christ.
*It funny that secular organizations are figuring out what we should have long known…we were made to thrive in community.
2. Pursuing Meaning: In not Out of Troubled times.
1 God is our refuge and strength…an ever present help in time of need…
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.
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.
*Our confidence in him is most often revealed in times of testing.
*How can we experience him most fully unless we have come to a place that is beyond our own limits?
*Important and powerful symbol here that would be easy for us to miss:
*Mountains were symbols of permanence when this was written…stable, rising into the sky…fixed rock
giants…God met people on mountains…God spoke from mountains.
*Oceans were symbols of chaos, unstable, evil…unfixed, unpredictable, dark and dangerous.
*So when the Psalmist says that he will not fear “though the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” its important to understand how dramatic a declaration this is.
*This is all that is stable & permanent…falling into complete chaos.
*My world is coming apart…”the mountains are falling into the heart sea.”
*In addition…Nations are in uproar…kingdoms are falling.
*Same Hebrew word used in both cases: Waters roar, Nations in uproar
*Nature and Nations are both in chaos.
*Natural and Man-made disaster.
*In all this God is our refuge and strength…an ever-present help in times of trouble.
1. Refuge: Fortress, hiding place 2. Strength: Defender, protector 3. Ever-present: Always helping
*Therefore (since this is true, and only since this is true) we will not fear…we will not give into fear…even if…the worse case scenario actually happens.
*This is the opposite of catastrophizing:
-Imagining the very worse that might happen and freezing, living in fear of what might be.
-Here even when the worse might happen…I will not fear…because God is our refuge and strength (hiding place and defender)…an ever present help.
1. Predicting a negative outcome
2. Assuming if does happen it will be the end of the world…it will undo me, ruin me.
*Like the word that describes the thinking…it is turning life into a looming catastrophe…this makes life perpetually fearful…full of anxiety.
*We are not likely to experience God because we frozen in fear…not willing to move into the future, or to take risks.
*Three components of catastrophizing:
1. Over thinking…ruminating (what a cow does with cud…chews, swallow bring it up, on and on) *Ruminate on what?
2. Assuming the negative…Bad is going to happen…allowing our minds to fixate on the bad that might (will happen)
3. Believing this negative that’s going to happen will be my undoing…I am about to be rolled over by this huge wave and there is nothing I can about it.
*The Psalmist doesn’t do avoidance and denial…confessing or believing that nothing bad is ever going to happen.
*Or extreme thinking like catastrophizing…he applies faith to his thinking about the possibilities of the future.
*”Even if the worse happens…all that is stable and sure gives way to chaos…we will not give into fear…because God is our ever present fortress and protector.
*Trying not to feel anxious when you feel anxious is a great way to become more anxious.
*This is not about playing defense…trying not to fear.
*This is trusting God…with our future…with our fear.
Prov. 3:25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, 26 for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.
*FDR said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
*Brilliant, memorable line…not factually true…actually, coming from a man to men and women…it is
*They had quite a lot to fear…we have quite a lot to fear.
*But when God says it…he speaking from a perspective larger than this life…larger than any human promise.
*God said in essence what FDR said…”have no fear of sudden terror ” *NIV says “sudden disaster” but the word is “terror”
*But FDR was not God…FDR was giving a political pep talk.
*God is describing reality for those who put their confidence in him.
*Have no fear of that fear that comes from nowhere and grips your heart and soul…that freezes you.
*Why…God will be your confidence even then…he will keep you from being ensnared by whatever trouble comes.
*Do not fear…fear…we get anxious about getting anxious.
*There is no promise that sudden fear won’t come or disaster won’t come…there is a gentle firm challenge here.
*Do not fear that sudden fear…nameless, anxiety producing…the fear that someday your worse nightmare might come true and if it does you will ruined.
*God says it is not possible that you will be ruined…not finally, not really…you will never suffer the fate, the ruin of the wicked…no matter what happens to you.
*Stop trying to stop being afraid…anxious. *Instead…move towards him…train yourself to trust him.
*You can train yourself to not fear through personal effort…exposure to what you fear overtime can remove or diminish fear. (Called exposure therapy, and it is effective)
*But this doesn’t mean you have become a person of faith…a person who is actually in a place of real protection…trusting God with the future.
*What does this have to do with the pursuit of meaning?
*Often what we fear is the loss of what we believe we have to have in order to be happy…what gives our lives meaning.
*We fear the loss of image, prestige, respect
*We fear loss of health
*We fear loss of possessions, pleasures, relationships that we must have to be happy
*This fear, anxiety of the loss of the things that we believe lead to our happiness…makes us perpetually or often unhappy.
*Fear of loss…removes our capacity to enjoy the things we are afraid of losing..
*Declaration of Independence famously says…”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
*The problem is that the pursuit of happiness apart from the foundation of meaning found in relationship with God is a fool’s pursuit.
*The pursuit of happiness apart from confidence in God is going to be a very unhappy journey…and ultimately…an unsuccessful one.
*So this experience of God proving himself faithful is most visible and powerful in the midst of trouble…trouble can reveal where we are looking for meaning in life.
*This trouble reveals whether we are attempting to “hang meaning in mid-air”…finding purpose in things that can and will be taken.
*Or whether we are building meaning on a rock…finding purpose in what cannot be taken from us…relationship with God through the Lord Jesus.
1. Community…”we not me”
2. Meaning…”Even though the mountain fall into the sea”
3. A lasting Friendship
3. A lasting Friendship: Be still and know God.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
*He says to the chaotic sea…be still!
*The next scene the waters are not a scary ocean that drowns the mountain…they are a life-giving, God directed River that flows through his city to provide for his people.
*He says to the chaos of warring nations…be still!
*God will someday destroy all the weapons of war…he breaks bow, spear, shield…he makes wars to cease.
*Then he says to our chaotic hearts…be still and know that I am God.
*I will be exalted among the nations…wars will all cease.
*I will be exalted in the earth…disasters and disease will cease.
*This is ultimately a future hope.
*We will experience this in fullness at the end of all things, when all things are made new.
*What God is doing and going to do on a macro scale…nations and nature will “be still and know that he is God”…we can experience now on a micro scale.
*What God is doing to oceans and nations…he wants to do to single hearts and minds.
*He wants us to “Be still…and to know him.”
*Recently when I was away from home, the days were full but the nights were open for me to decide what to do with my time.
*I had the opportunity to be still and know him…I sat for hours each evening…looked out the window of my room and prayed, thought, read…it was a tremendous time for me.
*”Terry, I don’t have the luxury to sit by the window for 3 hours at night.”
*I normally don’t either…but I don’t think its necessary to have that time…to learn to be still.
*We do have a lot of time alone…lots of small times to be still…in the car, in the shower, drifting off to sleep.
*”Yea, well, I am the mom of preschoolers…the car is Looney tunes and I don’t get to take showers or sleep…haven’t for 2 years.”
*Okay…I get it.
*There are times when “being still and knowing, remembering he is God” is challenging.
*Work with me here…be open.
*Brother Lawrence…17th century Christian who worked in a monastery kitchen.
*Learned to “Be still and know God” while surrounded by others…
*Maybe it could even happen when surrounded by preschoolers…this is not about guilt…but opportunity.
*Maybe even as you sit in an office and work on spreadsheets…you can learn to be still and know him.
*”Terry, when I work…I work…I don’t stare out the window and pray.”
*You have mental time to discuss your work with him as you work, to include him in it, to pray your way through spreadsheets or meetings…I know this is true.
*There is more time to nurture this friendship than we often know…
*For many of us…we are not continually overcome by events…it is a choice we make, we have trained our appetites so that we just don’t enjoy being still, being with him.
*We can train our appetites otherwise.
*One day unless he returns…we will die.
*We will each have our own personal end of the world.
*We may die alone somewhere…I hope not.
*We may die holding the hand of a family member or friend.
*But even then…no human can pass through with us…only Jesus can.
*I have held the hand of the dying…they left me holding their hand…they went through without me. *He alone is “your ever present help”
*Nurture friendship with Jesus…be still and know him.
*It is our greatest opportunity in life and death…greatest.
* Luther was right…to turn this into a gospel hymn…”A mighty fortress” comes from this psalm.
*The quiet, emotion touching song…”Be still and know that he is God” -is one legit way of looking at the reality of this Psalm.
*The basis for being able to do that…is our God is a mighty fortress.
*The Psalms are the Songs of Jesus…they foreshadowed him…he sang them…they point us to him.
*None more clearly than this one…
*Matt 28:20…surely I with you always, even to the very end of this age (time itself)
1. Walk with God in community…your faith is a “we” not a “me” adventure..
2. Pursue meaning not happiness.
-Meaning is found in the purposes of God in your life…whatever those are.
3. Nurture friendship with Jesus.
-We have opportunity, we often lack intentionality.
*If you have not lived this way, or nurtured this friendship it will be difficult, non-compelling at first…other things will pull on your heart.
*But as your appetites become healthier…you will come to love living your life in friendship with him.
*Back to the first point…enlist the help of community, other friends who might be farther down the path than you on this.
*Or maybe someone who wants to learn to nurture friendship with Jesus in their everyday life as well…journey with them.
*Many people long of meeting, spending time with a famous person, their hero…someone powerful, smart, creative.
*I think of this often…I have the opportunity to “be still and know”…in an intimate, personal way…God. *This is the greatest opportunity, the greatest gift…greatest venture in my life.
*It does not mean I should withdraw from life and make praying my full-time vocation…he wants to meet me in the context of the life he has called me to.
*In fact that is the only place I will encounter him…on the path called faithfulness is where I will experience him.