God’s presence in the midst of disaster (Psalm 46)

Bible Commentary / Produced by TOW Project

At times, disaster threatens our places of work, the work itself, or our sense of well-being. These disasters include the natural (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, typhoons, wildfires), the economic (recessions, bankruptcy, collapse of major financial institutions), and the political (sudden change in policy, priorities, war). Psalm 46 highlights the world-spanning breadth disaster can take, and we see this today in the global economy. Currency decisions made in London and Beijing impact the price farmers from Indiana or Indonesia get for their crops. Political turmoil in the Middle East may affect the price of gasoline in a small town anywhere in the world, and this in turn, through a chain of events, may determine whether a local restaurant stays in business. Even if the ancient economies were not so “global,” people knew full well that what happened among the nations could sooner or later change their lives. The melting of the earth implies that someday all the powers of the nations will be seen to have been as ephemeral as castles made of wax. Turmoil in the world means uncertainty for trade, government, finance and every kind of work.

No matter how great the disaster, God is greater still.

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. (Ps. 46:1-3)

God’s help during the collapse of Arthur Andersen

Arthur Andersen, the auditing firm handling Enron, began to unravel as a result of the Enron scandal. Robert Wright was a senior partner who decided that his primary goal would be to get jobs elsewhere for the people in his division when Andersen collapsed.  He began looking to sell the division to a firm that would agree to retain the employees, and he discovered he needed to rely on God. Click here to continue reading.

In the middle of difficult, threatening circumstances, we can approach our work and our co-workers calmly, confidently, even gladly. Our ultimate trust is in God, whose own self provides a refuge of strength and well-being when our strength runs out. Not just us individually, but our communities and the whole world come under God’s grace. Global disaster is no match for God’s providence.  Reviewing the way God has taken care of us in previous circumstances—our own and the people of God’s—assures us that God is with us “in the midst of the city” (Ps. 46:5) and everywhere on earth (Ps. 46:10). At times, we may even have the privilege of serving as one of God’s means for helping other people in the midst of disaster.