God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Psalm 46: 1-3, 7 (NRSV)
Right now it feels like the earth itself is changing. That’s what it meant to me when, on March 11, the W.H.O. declared that COVID-19 had become a pandemic: a disease affecting the whole world. As we enter the third week of social distancing and strive in every way possible to keep ourselves and others healthy, I look at how much my life has changed. Ordinary activities such as greeting worshipers on Sunday morning, getting together with friends, working out at the gym, and visiting grandchildren are no longer possible. Special events like a family wedding have been postponed; an already-paid for vacation has been canceled. And still I know that I am fortunate because I have a home and food, I can work remotely, and I can get outside to enjoy the beauty that surrounds me. My heart aches for those who have no home, or cannot afford food, or are losing their jobs. I grieve with those who are ill, with those who cannot visit loved ones, and with healthcare providers who are overwhelmed by the increasing level of disease and death around them.
What do we do when the earth is changing and the mountains are shaking beneath us? What can we do? As people of faith, we need not fear, because we put our trust in a power much greater than our own. Indeed we know that the challenge our world is facing cannot be overcome by human power alone. The good news of the gospel is that we do not have to try. We can trust our hearts and minds and spirits to the God who is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” I am reminded of the words of a great hymn (one of my favorites): “O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.” The Lord is with us.
Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing
O God our help in ages past, we pray for your help in these difficult days. Help us not to fear because we trust that you are always present with us. Today we pray especially for the families torn apart by the spread of this virus—for spouses who cannot be together, for adult children and elderly parents they cannot visit, for young children whose parents cannot hold them for fear of infection, and for all who have lost a loved one without being able to say goodbye. Grant them help in their trouble. Give them peace amid the tumult. Amen.