"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 . . ." (Psalm 46:1-2).
What constitutes evidence that God is "present" and a "help"? Evidently not the sight of catastrophe.
I suppose that if you were alarmed about your circumstances and you commenced praying for God to be present with you and then you saw the earth giving way or mountains crumbling into the sea, you might conclude that your prayers were not answered. After all, you prayed against catastrophe and here is catastrophe! I mean, how else do we gauge whether God is with us other than by observing whether our troubles have disappeared?
This psalm is bona fide proof that if we have been assuming this, we have been wrong. Here is the psalmist finding no inconsistency whatsoever between the presence of God and the presence or continuance of disaster. He is prepared to assert that God is "very present" even though the rafters are falling around him. Not only is God "very present," He is "a very present help." Hitherto, what I would have called a "help in trouble" is someone who removed the trouble, or at least mitigated my experience of it.
Do we go by the sight of our eyes or by what the Word of God says? The earth is giving way. Where is the evidence of God's presence? It would seem, by all appearances, that "present" is precisely what God is not!
It is then that you have to ask yourself-when you have prayed for God's help and the response is an unabatement of trouble: Will I still believe God? Job faced this. If God claims to be present and my trouble goes on and on, I need to decide whether to give up the faith or to put the Word of God (which says God claims to be present) above even something so fundamental a touchstone as my five senses. The five senses are our normal ways of knowing the world. But are they ultimate?
Come to think of it, why should the crumbling of my world be considered counter-evidence of God's presence? Will I dictate to God what form His presence should take? Am I the judge that I should say what is inconsistent with God's presence?
What if God is up to something in this crumbling of the world, something I have no idea of, something that will take time to be visible or come to fruition? If it comes to it, you and I must make this policy statement: Even if there is a choice between God's Word and our eyes, I believe you, God. Because you say that you are with me, even now, I believe you.
To hear commentaries by Andrée Seu, click here.