For all the issues that come with modern technology, technology is serving our churches well during these uncertain times. Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, I’m not traveling. Thanks to technology, this past week I held teleconferences with regional leaders in three states. I shared in numerous other conversations and exchanges with church leaders. This same technology allows the Ohio District staff to meet as often needed to provide support and encouragement for churches and schools.
The word “uncertain” captures what I heard throughout last week. Our churches and church workers are navigating unfamiliar waters, and its leading to a good deal of uncertainty. As I heard about this uncertainty, the Scripture verse that repeatedly came to mind was Psalm 46:
“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, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah” (Psalm 46:1-3 ESV)
In this digital age of social media, we’re constantly pressured to come up with new images or angles. Psalm 46 is anything but new or novel. God has used Psalm 46 to comfort and encourage His people countless times.
We know for a fact that Martin Luther relied heavily on this Psalm during the Reformation. The Reformation was the epitome of uncertainly, with leaders knowing full well they could lose their very lives. Luther quoted the verse so often, his peers started to call it “Luther’s Psalm.”
In the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, our forefathers in the faith left Europe because of religious persecution. They faced uncertain and fearful times in sailing to America and starting over in a strange land. It is no accident that Psalm 46 was integral to their worship life, both corporately and personally.
I have to think that Psalm 46 remained vital to Lutherans in 1918, another time of great uncertainty. Just like COVID-19 today, the Spanish Flu forced Lutherans to stop gathering in person for worship. Meanwhile, the United States was preparing to enter a world war. That same war was forcing the Lutherans to stop worshipping and teaching confirmation in the German language.
As Lutheran Christians, we again find ourselves in uncharted waters. And once again, we hear God’s reassurance through the Psalmist:
“God is our refuge and strength, our very present help in trouble.”
In each of the above eras, God delivered His people in unique ways fitting for the age. However, there also are commonalities.
We know God used the Bible to reassure His people during each time of great uncertainty. In the Bible, God’s people found the certainty. Certainty in God’s character. Certainty in God’s promises.
We also know God moved His people to support one another. Instead of dividing God’s people, the disruptions drew them together. We’re seeing this again. Members making phone calls to one another. Pastors making visits through video calls. Homebound members are receiving cards and instant messages.
Psalm 46 is again reassuring His people through uncertain times. As God was our very help in trouble in the past, so the Lord is our help in today’s troubled times. Just as our Lord was faithful in the past, so He is faithful to use today. Amen.