“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”
As I’ve read about the lives of saints in the past, I’ve been struck by their sense of piece during times of adversity. They faced things I’ve not even seen in my nightmares. The struggles I’ve experienced pale in comparison to those experienced by these great people of faith. And by great people of faith, I’m not referring only (or even primarily) to famous names, but to ordinary Christians who would probably have never been known if not for the trials they faced. Take for example three young average Christian men from Geneva in the 16th century who were arrested, during a visit to France to see friends, for the heinous crime of being protestants. These otherwise unremarkable young men walked to their executions (which was being burned alive at the stake) singing hymns and praising God.
The psalmist sings about taking refuge and finding strength in God in the midst of world shattering trial. Romans 8:6 says, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” I remember the first time I saw the bumper sticker which reads, “No Jesus, No Peace / Know Jesus, Know Peace”. Peace comes through setting our mind on the Spirit, on God. Peace comes through taking refuge and finding our strength in God. How do we set our minds on the Spirit? My answer would be: prayer, reading the scriptures, meditation, community worship, fellowshipping with believers and sharing the gospel with others.
When you’re stressed, worries, beat down, depressed, etc. Pray! Read the Word, meditate on scripture etc. I mediate largely by journalling. These little articles are first written as journal entries and when I write “you” I’m pointing at myself in the proverbial mirror. It also often helps to picture myself literally laying down whatever burden it may be down at the feet of the cross. It can be difficulty to break the fleshly habit of focusing on myself. But I must break this cycle. Set my mind on the spirit. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing. Ensconced behind that bulwark, I can then sing, and mean it:
“When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot Thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’”