Present and well-proved

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

October 31st is Reformation Day. Psalm 46 and Martin Luther’s hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, that is likely (but loosely) based on the psalm, are both up for this Sunday. So our Tuesday and Wednesday discussion groups spent time comparing the psalm and hymn and seeing if we could figure out what some of the connections were. But, of course, we have also been listening for what might be the connections to our daily life.

Thanks to www.workingpreacher.org, I was reminded that the Hebrew word translated “present” can also mean “well-proved.” God is a very present help in trouble, but God is also a well-proved help in trouble. Two great meanings in the space of one little word! Probably the author’s intention.

If God is a present help, then right now at this time and in this place God is helping us. In fact, God is not just present, God is “very present.” It seems like the psalmist wants us to be sure about this promise of God.

But if God is a very “well-proved” help in trouble, then that implies that God has proved God’s help in other troubled situations. Of course, to the people of Israel for whom this psalm was written, the big story of God’s well-proved help was their journey out of slavery in Egypt and crossing safely through the wilderness.

As followers of Jesus, the big, good news story is that Jesus died to heal us and God raised him from the dead to be our strength and refuge always. That is a huge,well-proved help. Therefore when we are in the middle of trouble, we have only to sit down and recall the ways God has helped in the past to be encouraged that God will help again. It is true that sometimes we get so distracted by the trouble that we forget what God has done in the past.

So take a minute. How has God proved God’s help to you in the past? Then look around you now: what present trouble needs the present help of a faithful God.