Unshakeable Faith

Unshakable Faith
By: J. B. Hixson, Ph.D.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. (Psalm 46:1–3)

This beautiful psalm written by the Sons of Korah inspired Martin Luther to write his famous hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God.  The psalm, like Luther’s hymn, speaks of God as the Lord of Hosts who protects His people from unexpected trouble.  From the psalmist’s perspective, the earth beneath our feet does not normally move on its own.  Likewise, the mountains do not normally shake, and the oceans are not normally in a state of uncontrollable frenzy.  These are unusual circumstances.  When unexpected things happen, the Lord will provide refuge, the psalmist says.  God is always everywhere present; and He never changes. When everything else seems to be changing, the psalmist was confident that God would be there as a “very present help in trouble.”

The shaking ground in this psalm is a figure of speech.  It is a metaphor for any unexpected, severe trouble that is beyond our control.  The psalmist is trying to think of worst-case scenarios that might challenge our faith.  Even in times of unprecedented difficulty, God is still God.  Whether we see it coming or not; God does.  He is never surprised nor caught off guard.  Some 3,000 years after this psalm was written, we still have to deal with unexpected events.  Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ all over the world are called upon to put their faith into practice by trusting God to see them through unanticipated crises.

These days, it seems like there are metaphorical earthquakes and tidal waves all around us.  One minute we are cruising along through life just fine; the next, everything has changed.  When unplanned emergencies arise, we must crank up our faith.  Sadly, for many believers this faith has laid dormant for weeks or months.  We often don’t exercise faith until we have to.  When things are fine, we don’t need God; but when trouble arises, guess where we turn?  Unexpected trials separate mature believers from weaker believers.  “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” (Proverbs 24:10)  Difficulties will come. How we respond makes all the difference.

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  If we hold our heads high and keep marching, in spite of the earth moving beneath us, we are demonstrating the kind of trust that makes us mature and leads us to a deeper relationship with Christ.  “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2–4)

The Apostle Paul challenged early believers in Thessalonica who were facing persecution and affliction to be encouraged in their faith.  He said, “no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.” (1 Thessalonians 3:2–3)  In other words, God saw it coming and none of their troubles surprised Him.  The word “shaken” (sainō) in this verse is used only here in the New Testament.  Elsewhere in Greek literature it is used to refer to a dog wagging its tail.  The idea is that we should not waver back and forth in our faith when we face persecution.

The writer of Hebrews compares our shakable world to the unshakable coming kingdom of God.  Since our God is unshakable, our service to Him should not waver in times of trouble.  The Bible says, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Hebrews 12:28)  How do we maintain our faith in the Lord in times of trouble?  By exercising it!  Each day we need to read God’s Word and spend time in prayer—both things that express faith in spiritual matters.  We need to trust God for the little things in our lives so that when big troubles come, our natural instinct will be to turn it over to Him.

We must resist the tendency to set specific expectations in life.  There is a difference between expectations that are manmade and a general expectancy that God is in control.  Expectations are specific ideas formed in our minds to which we think life’s circumstances must conform.  When life does not play along with our plans, we are crushed.  Expectancy, on the other hand, is a general understanding that God is God, and He only wants what is best for us.  Expectancy trusts that God’s purposes will be accomplished each day, even if they are not always accomplished the way we thought they would be.  Expectancy means believing that God’s plan is always bigger and better than our measly little expectations, so why not just trust Him and watch the miracles unfold?  “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

If you have never trusted God for what matters most, your eternal salvation, start there.  Trust in God’s Son, our Savior, who died and rose again to rescue you from the penalty of sin, hell.  He is the only One who can forgive your sins and give you the free gift of eternal life. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:17–18)

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