5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
– Psalm 118:5–8
Q. What is your only hope in life and death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ...
– The Heidelberg Catechism
From Taylor Brazil
We live in distressing times. With a deeply divided country, numerous problems that seem too difficult to solve, and a worldwide pandemic that has obliterated countless rhythms of our daily lives, our collective anxiety is higher than it’s been in a very long time. Our complete immersion in the news and in social media, which both stand to profit greatly from our distress, does nothing to help us. The world wants us to be afraid, and so its various media streams present us with apocalyptic answers to the “what if” questions they know we are prone to ponder. This is true across the board, and it’s true because our enemy wants us to bank on false hopes and saviors that promise to relieve the immense burden we feel. Anything to distract us from the source of true hope.
As the Psalmist here understood, our true hope is not tied to the shifting sands of history. It is seated above them in the heavens, in our God, who reigns and accomplishes everything that He purposes to do (Isaiah 46:10). What looks like bleakness and fearful uncertainty to us is as plain as the day to Him, and His good plans are at work and will prevail. As even the proud king Nebuchadnezzar came to admit, He reigns forever, all His ways are right and just, He is able to humble the proud, and absolutely no one can stay His hand (Daniel 4:34–37).
The only thing that makes this truth more amazing is that this all-powerful God deeply cares about us. Not only does He hear us when we call, but He answers us. In times of deep distress, remember all the ways that the Lord has delivered you. He is living and active in your life, and it is immeasurably better to take refuge in Him than in anything else.
But we are tempted to disbelieve and to seek refuge in other things. This is the heart of idolatry. Thankfully, God knows our weak hearts, so He has proven Himself our refuge beyond the shadow of a doubt. He did this when He sent the Son to come, die, and rise again for us.
Jesus delivered us from everything that can ultimately harm us.
Because He died for our sins, God Himself is unshakably for us. Because He conquered death, we are more than conquerors through Him. Because He always intercedes for us even now, nothing in heaven and on earth can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 8:31–39).
Now we can say, with even more confidence than the Psalmist, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Our God is the one hope on Whom we can hang all our other hopes. He is the one hope who will not ultimately let us down. And even when we don’t understand Him, we can trust that He is good and that His good purposes will prevail. Jesus is building His church, and no one can stop Him; they can’t even slow Him down.
So, as we wait for the great day when God’s plans come to glorious fruition, let’s walk by faith and take refuge in Him in the way that He has told us to: “Trust in him at all times, O people / pour out your heart before Him / God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8). Remember His goodness, and His promises, and then pour your heart out to Him, with all of its worries and cares, because He really does care for you (1 Peter 5:7). Then watch what He does and follow His lead. The Lord Himself is our helper, and we will look out in triumph. So remember the words of our great and gentle Shepherd, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Romans 15:13)