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Letting Psalm 46 Guide our Thinking 

As you seek to gain a comforting perspective in these unsettling times, the Psalms are a prescription for distress and worry.

Oct 13, 2021

In the difficulties and trepidations of life, it’s easy to allow wrong thoughts to rule instead of Truth.  Yes, we have things to be concerned about, but do we have a healthy concern or are we drifting into God’s territory? Psalm 46 reminds us that no matter how horrible life may be or seem, one who is truly running hard after God is able to rest and trust because of who He is. 

At the end of the day, self-reflection helps to evaluate obedience when it comes to our thinking. The Lord commands what we are to think about in all circumstances. Therefore, being intentional with our thinking during these times is critical. You can know if you have a healthy concern or lack of trust by asking yourself good questions: 

  1. Are the majority of my thoughts controlled by news updates, financial concerns or the “what ifs” of my family’s future?  
  2. Do I thoughtfully engage in the present with contentment (Colossians 3:2), or does my thinking become enslaved to circumstances?  
  3. Can I lie down at night thankful that my mind was focused on the promises of God for my ultimate security and grateful for God’s promised provision to care for my needs (Philippians 4:19)?  
  4. Am I looking to the government or media to find my strength and peace of mind, or turning to the living God for hope (Romans 15:4)?  

In his book Trusting God, Jerry Bridges defines a life of trust this way:  

“Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelm us.”  (page 214).  

The Heart’s Prescription  

Almost every single Psalm, in some way or another, portrays the Lord as our refuge in trouble and the center of our hopes. They teach us how to approach God in prayer, how to praise and worship God, how to live a holy and righteous life, what to do when we fail and how to deal with every human emotion we experience. The Psalms help us learn how to feel… and right now many of us need that help.  

Psalm 46 is an example of a Psalm that validates, shapes and provides direction for our emotions. 

“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, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. ‘Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress”  (Psalm 46).  

Practical Application  

Write out Psalm 46. It is helpful to outline the Psalm and then answer these questions:  

  1. What seven phrases describe God in this Psalm?  
  2. When trouble comes your way, how long does it take you to think of God?   
  3. When you finally DO think of God, what kinds of thoughts about God come to you in your distress?  
  4. God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1). Why does it sometimes seem that you don’t “experience” the strength of God working in you? He promises the strength, and He promises He IS your strength. What do you think is the issue when you seem to be without any strength in hard times?
  5. We often don’t “feel” that God is near, present or even helping. What should we do in these times? 
  6. If God being our fortress (Psalm 46:7) is not about “protecting us from all bad stuff in life”, what do you think He is a fortress from?  What is the biblical meaning of this idea? (Suggested cross references … be sure to look at the verses around these also: 2 Samuel 22:2, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 31:3, Psalm 59:16, Psalm 62:2-6. 
  7. What do you learn from this Psalm that stables your soul in trouble? Is your faith in God ruling you during the difficult times, and what does that look like?  

As you seek to gain a comforting perspective in these unsettling times, the Psalms are a prescription for distress and worry. Psalms for the Anxious, an excerpt from John MacArthur’s book Anxious for Nothing, is a very helpful resource. Meditating on these Psalms each day will help to direct godly thinking.