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Faith under fire (30-03-23)

A Bible Reading: Psalm 46 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give wayand the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

A Thought While we were on holiday last week, we went on a guided walk on Dartmoor. Although there are three military areas on Dartmoor, it was not a firing day and no red flags were flying. Imagine our surprise, when we found ourselves in the middle of a Royal Marines training exercise!

The soldiers spread out and advanced across the moor in front of us, firing as they went. They then retreated the way they had come, still firing. Admittedly we were close to Okehampton Army Camp, but we had not expected this. An army officer appeared to reassure us that they were only firing blanks and we were quite safe to cross the same piece of moor. I was less reassured when the same group of Marines appeared spread out along a wall behind us. David said he had never known me walk so quickly! I found the whole episode unnerving, especially on what should have been a quiet, relaxing morning walk. The Okehampton Army Camp is currently training Ukrainian soldiers too, a sober reminder of the realities of war today in other parts of the world.

I have in my possession the well-thumbed little Bible which my granddad carried in the breast pocket of his jacket throughout the First World War. This is a simple testimony to faith under fire. It was clearly a comfort to him during the horrors of the trenches, and when he was wounded in the Battle of the Somme. Little wonder that the role of the Army Chaplain is significant to so many soldiers.

The Psalmists too found themselves in challenging situations, sometimes pursued by military enemies. The Psalms were written out of their experiences. Psalm 46 is a good one for any anxious situation. The writer points out that no matter what is going on around us, God is always there, providing refuge, security and peace. God is our refuge even in the face of destruction, whether from war or natural disaster. And this is no temporary sanctuary. God is an everlasting refuge, providing strength and calm in any circumstance.

War and turmoil seem inevitable, but God is still there in the midst of the chaos. Whatever is causing you anxiety and fear at present, take a few moments to be still in God’s presence, reverently honouring his power and majesty. Allow the words from the beginning of Psalm 46 be taken to heart: ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…’

A Prayer

Lord Almighty, when the earth shakes and the nations are in uproar, speak, and let the storms be still, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God is our strength and refuge, sung to the Dam Busters March All Souls, Langham Place, Virtual Choir and Orchestra

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