In the midst of troubles, I know God will be there for me
One of the things that I do at least two times a year is to read through and to pray with the Psalms. I always do it during Lent but I also do it toward the end of summer as I begin to prepare for the business of the church season to begin again in the fall. I love the Psalms! I think because I can really identify with the people in the Psalms. It often seems like they are desperate and need a lot of help. Psalm 46 is one of my favorites. It begins, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
The people in the Psalms had lots of troubles, their lives were very often in turmoil and chaotic. These were people who were in way over their heads. These were people who needed prayer. If your life has no challenges, if your heart has never been broken, if your life just runs smoothly along, then maybe you don’t really need prayer, but I know that I do.
I remember visiting a man in the hospital who had just been told that he had cancer, was dying and was going to be discharged under Hospice care because there was nothing else that could be done for him. He was angry and frustrated and scared. I listened and let him vent some of his anger and then I offered to pray with him. “What good will that do?” he said. “I don’t know,” I said, “But you have trouble and when I have trouble, I take it to God because God deals with trouble!”
The Psalmist is no stranger to troubles. Like the Psalmist, I do not think that God will magically make my troubles go away but I do believe that in the midst of troubles, God is there and will not abandon me. God comforts us and brings us peace.
I find that many people have trouble praying. They think that there is a right and a wrong way to pray and so they are afraid that they will not “do it right.” I think that one of the reasons that we find prayer difficult is because prayer reminds us of our needs, our troubles and our helplessness. We want to be those people who do not have any troubles and always seem to be in control. Prayer is a confession that we are not in control and that we need help. But prayer also reminds us that although we may not be in control, we have a God who is our “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Farther into Psalm 46 is my favorite line in the Bible, “Be still and know that I am God.” That verse reminds me that I can pray in the midst of my suffering, heartbreak and loss and still find hope. This verse is such a gift to me for in it I can often find the strength to be still and to know that God is Lord. And sometimes that is enough and it will calm my fears and bring me peace.
I highly recommend reading the Psalms and if your life is full of troubles, perhaps start with Psalm 46. My prayer for you is that you too can find “a very present help in trouble” and then be able to “Be still and know that God is Lord.”
The Rev. Bonnie M. Orth is the pastor of the Mayfield Central Presbyterian Church and the Pastoral Care Coordinator at Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.