By: Rev Archie Poulos, Head of Department of Ministry
There will be no-one in Australia unaffected by the pain, loss, tragedy, despair and heroism that is this summer’s bushfires. I am unable to even imagine the intensity of emotion that so many closely afflicted from the fires must be going through. Yet when life is out of control as it has been in recent days, everyone looks for a higher power to call upon, or to blame, or to assist in propelling us to greater service. Some turn to prayer to ask the Lord for help, some to the politicians for either support or to accuse them of inaction, some to the extraordinary efforts of fire-fighters for examples of courage and selflessness, and some to the actions of people they don’t even know who have at personal cost opened their hearts, their homes and their wallets to support people in need.
Each of these helpers has a very important and wonderful place in our common distress this summer, but it is God who is our great defender and support – the one who will always do what is good and right and the one from whom our help finally comes.
Like our recent experience, many of the Psalms are set in a situation of opposition, despair; where the writer’s life is about to be extinguished, and in the awful extremity of the situation he turns to call on the Lord. It is right to call on the Lord as God watches over his own and they can shadow in his wings (Psalm 36, 57, 63, 91), and even though he inhabits eternity his ear is turned to hear the quiet pleas of his people (Psalm 18:6, 31:22), and so we can boldly ask God to make haste to help (Psalm 38:22, 70:1, 71:12). In all of life’s situations and circumstances it is such a comfort to know that God is our strength and refuge.
And yet, we called out to God through the bushfires and they still advanced. Knowing the revealed and proven character of God demands that we trust that God, like a mother hen caring for her chicks, has our best interests at heart. And knowing this, calls for trust from his people, as we continue in prayer for our nation; and for a heart like God’s where his people generously, moving beyond the boundaries of our comfortable relationships, seek the good of others.
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