Umbrellas are great – little roofs you can take in you pocket, and whip out as needed. Instant shelter! But we’ve all recently seen the video footage of an impending tsunami, with palpable fear etched on each face, panic rising as the wave approaches, the screen rolls and blanks out… And we’ve seen the devastation. Not even the strongest of buildings are safe in such times. Umbrellas would be farcical.
This is the sort of devastation Psalm 46 is taking about. It might be physical, like the tsunami. Or it could be a personal disaster, when life crumbles, and nothing will ever be the same again – bereavement, diagnosis, redundancy, relationship break-up… How can you get by without knowing there is a shelter in these times? Not some flimsy fold-up umbrella, but a rock-solid, tsunami-proof person who will protect. Never failing; always there.
There is a stark contrast in verse 4, with the beautiful, refreshing waters of the river that runs through ‘the city of God’. This is a constantly-flowing water course, steady and reliable. Right in the place where God dwells. It reminded me of John 4:14 – “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” My heart, the place where God dwells. I can trust that God will be my help, my ever-present fortress. I can ‘be still and know He is God’.