Deep inside every human being resides an ache, a longing for security. We were made for paradise, not to be stalked by viruses, bacteria, and other death-wielding diseases. But like it or lump it, facts are stubborn things, the game is afoot, the hunt is on, and the odds are not in our favor. Notwithstanding all our advances in healthcare and medical technology, mortality rates remain remarkably consistent across the world: one death for every person.
For an eternal soul, rather attached to life, that’s an alarming statistic, one that we like to ignore: “Tomorrow,” we think to ourselves, “I might die tomorrow, but probably not today. In any case, my worst fears rarely come true; things are usually much better than they seem, and besides, I’m relatively young and quite fit, so I’ll probably be OK.” Like any fair-weather friend, such thinking only helps until it doesn’t. When the music stops and the bottom really does fall out, what are we to do?
God has given us many songs in the Bible to sing at such moments. None are richer than that ancient hymn of steadfast faith, Psalm 46. Through the ages, these words have formed a haven of rest for souls harried on all sides by death, demons, and darkness. In a world gripped by COVID-19 fever, here is a pillow upon which your soul can safely rest amidst the storm.
The psalm pictures a time of unimaginable chaos. The mountains, those ever-constant landmarks that were there before we were born and will exist long after we are gone—yes, those mountains are falling into the heart of the sea (Ps. 46:2–3). Picture the maelstrom: the world is in freefall. In all the dark days of human history, the human experience doesn’t get much worse than this. In such times, then and now, the question everyone is asking is, What on earth are we to do?
Don’t Be Overwhelmed with Fear
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea” (Ps. 46:1–2).
The psalmist’s confidence finds its root in his theology. In the Hebrew word order, the first two words of the psalm contain the secret: “God is for us a refuge.” God is for us. He is not against us. Let that thought sink in. Christian, God is on your side. His being is for you. So are His wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. God in His fullness is engaged on your side and for your benefit. In this regard, the psalmist identifies three particular aspects of God’s relation to His people:
- God is for us as the One to whom we can run when we’re in danger (refuge).
- God is for us as the One who’s strong when we are weak (strength).
- God is for us because He is near when we need help—literally, “a help in tight places, very findable” (Ps. 46:1).
Whatever COVID-19 throws at you, Christian, you will not face it alone. God will be with you. The closer the danger, the nearer the Shepherd. The One who died in your place for your sins will never abandon you. “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
Don’t Be Overwhelmed with Sorrow
In the second stanza, the psalmist takes us to Mount Zion. Imagine the scene there. Remember what’s happening to the mountains. You might expect to find panic: foundations shaking; walls collapsing; people running hither, thither, and yon; and mothers gathering up their little ones to run far away. But the atmosphere in the Holy City is not one of panic; it’s one of peace and gladness. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved.” (Ps. 46:4–5).