In 1517 Martin Luther was just an obscure, unknown Catholic priest. Until.
Until he decided to challenge the teachings of the Catholic church when he nailed his 95 theses on the church house door in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther challenged the church on 95 points where he felt they were scripturally wrong. This opposition meant a charge of heresy and certain excommunication. It could have resulted in torture and death.
For the next 10 years Luther led a Reformation protesting the teaching and practices of Catholicism. While leading this crusade, he suffered a series of serious health problems that affected him physically and emotionally. Extreme Dizziness. Heart problems. Intestinal complication. And depression.
During this time the black plague struck Germany. Luther watched his many friends die an awful death. Then his year old son became seriously ill.
While experiencing so many problems, Psalm 46 became Luther’s favorite source of solace. It is one of the great Psalms of the Bible that offers comfort, consolation. The very first verse offers a great pomise.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
GOD Is Our Refuge
A refuge is a place of safety and security from danger. We can find shelter in God in times of trouble, trial and temptation. When heartache overwhelms us like a flood God’s love, mercy and goodness are a guard to our spirits. They sustain us and offer sanctuary in a sinful world. A world with senseless evil and unmitigated malice.
GOD is Our Strength
We need not only refuge for shelter and safety, but strength to take up life’s tasks once the storm has passed.
When we experience sickness and sorrow in our lives, it is debilitating. When death invades our home, it can drain our energy and emotion. It leaves us empty. Hollow. And hurt. It times like that we need mental, emotional and physical strength. We need spiritual strength.
To people who were enduring an extreme hardship, God made this promise through his prophet: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa 41:10)
GOD Is Our Help
God will not fail us when we need him. The Psalmist emphasised this fact when he wrote. God is our Help. Our present help. Our very present help.
Friends may forsake us. Family may neglect us. But God there is protect us. Encourage us. Help us. Alfred Lord Tennyson put it this way:
Speak to him, thou, for He heareth
And spirit with spirit can meet.
Closer is He than breathing.
And nearer than hands and feet.
God’s help literally reached to earth from heaven when He sent Jesus to die for our sins. Make no mistake, God loves you. Cares for you. And desires to help you.
Psalm 46 was Martin Luther’s inspiration for writing the famous Hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God.
A mighty Fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
The truth of this hymn rooted in Psalm 46:1 continues offer us refuge, strength and help in our times of trouble.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman