Summary: God is not only a fortress and a refuge. God is the only effective fortress and refuge for us as we face the challenges of life and take seriously the call to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
Psalm 46:1-11 “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”
One of the most popular reformation hymns was based on the words of this psalm. Martin Luther combined the thoughts of this psalm with a popular beer drinking song and wrote the powerful hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The hymn and Psalm have been tools of comfort and strength for countless people of faith as they have faced the challenges and tragedies of life.
GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND FORTRESS
In times of trouble, God is our refuge and fortress. A fortress is a defensive structure that allows its occupants to withstand the attacks of enemies. A refuge is a place where one flees for protection and healing. God moves this way in our lives as we face the trials and tribulations of life.
God is a mighty fortress. The walls of this fortress are impenetrable. Life, Satan, our enemies cannot over come us, if we remain safe in God’s presence. In the 50’s and 60’s children learned the tactic of “duck and cover.” They would hide under their desks and cover their heads in the event of a nuclear war. This tactic was not a very good fortress defense. God’s presence as our fortress and refuge is effective.
God’s presence and love is our fortress and refuge. We are not protected by creeds, symbols, religious icons or rituals. God’s living and loving presence in our lives gives us the strength and the ability to stand against all.
Some people brag that they have no fear. They kid themselves. They might not be afraid of snakes or spiders, heights or speed, but each of us has our fears.
The psalmist rejoices that we have no reason to fear when God is present in our lives.
The degree of turmoil that the psalmist and Luther write about surprises us. We think that God’s strength will get us through traffic jams, bad meetings at work, and school troubles with the kids. The psalmist writes about worldwide changes, earthquakes, and tempestuous seas. Martin Luther writes about the loss of home, goods, honor, child or spouse and loss of life—still God will prevail and we had no reason to fear.
God’s love and presence in our lives is the one thing that no one and nothing can take away from us. We might lose everything else, but we still have Jesus.
When we are threatened, it is difficult for us to be still. We want to do something in order to correct the situation. We want to fight or run.
Lifeguards know that people who are drowning are dangerous to their rescuers. Unless the person becomes unconscious he cannot be rescued by swimming up to him or her and helping him or her to shore. Other methods are needed.
We try so hard to correct the problem ourselves, or to fight off our enemies and make us safe, that we keep God from helping us.
One of the hardest things for a Christian is to learn to be still and wait for God. It takes trust and faith that God is true to his promises and that God really will not forsake us. As our fortress and refuge, though, God invites us to have no fear and to be still.
God doesn’t guarantee successes and a stress free life. God does promise that his love and presence will always be a part of our lives. As such, we can face life with courage and a certainly fearlessness, because God is a mighty fortress.