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.
In 1735 John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist renewal movement of the Church of England, made his way from England to the New World having been called to be a minister for the new colony of Georgia. Wesley prayed over this invitation for some time and eventually came to the conclusion: “My chief motive, to which all the rest are subordinate, is the hope of saving my own soul.” Though he had lived a devout life, and was ordained as a deacon in the Anglican Church, he felt that his own soul had yet to be saved.
During the voyage across the Atlantic, Wesley experienced a new kind of faith, one that he had yet to find in his own life. He recorded it as such in his journal: “There was now an opportunity of trying whether they (The German Moravians) were delivered from the spirit of fear, as well as that of pride, anger, and revenge. In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the mainsail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans calmly sung on. I asked one of them afterwards, ‘Was you not afraid?’ He answered, ‘I thank God, no.’ I asked, ‘But were not your women and children afraid?’ He replied mildly, ‘No; our women and children are not afraid to die.’”
This profound experience would follow Wesley throughout the rest of his life, inevitably leading to the discovery of his own profound faith in the God who had faith in him, despite his sinfulness.
The psalmist sings out, “God is our refuge and strength… 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…” That kind of faith is remarkable, one that takes years to cultivate and nurture. Just as Wesley was surprised by the faith of the Moravians on the ship, so too, it is often difficult for us to maintain our faith in the midst of tragedy and fear. Yet, every Sunday the church gathers together to remember our God, to remember that God came in the form of flesh and mounted the hard wood of the cross for us.
So, the next time you’re confronted with the seas and mountains in your life shaking and spilling over remember the faith that God has in you. That time and time again God went after you, to find you, to call you by name, and to embrace you. How would your life change if you had the faith to look at death and suffering in the face and simply remark, “I am not afraid”?