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Is Your 'God' Too Small?

Psalm 46:1-3: “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. Selah.

Wow. It’s hard to picture a more chaotic scene than the one described in these verses. The earth giving way, the mountains being moved into the sea, the waters of the sea roaring and foaming all over the place. It’s utter chaos.

Even though this passage is probably hypothetical and symbolic, life certainly feels that way sometimes. That’s the point of the imagery here. Life can be chaotic.

And yet even in the most chaotic of times, what does this passage say about God? “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” As you may know, a “refuge” is a place of shelter and safety. It’s where you go when you need to be protected from something. And not only is God our refuge, but he’s also our “strength,” it says. He gives us the inward fortitude we need to get us through things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to get through.

Then this passage describes God as “a very present help in trouble.” I love that. Not just present: very present. Instead of being some distant deity who’s far removed from the struggles we’re facing, God’s right there with us—by our side, holding our hand, present through our darkest days. Even in “the valley of the shadow of death,” as another psalm famously says, he’s with us!

That’s why “we will not fear though the earth gives way and though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.” It’s because we have God by our side, and he’s bigger than any problem we could ever face.

If I could be very direct with you for a moment, do you know why trials so often cause us such a high level of anxiety? Do you know why we often feel so overwhelmed by them, perhaps even on a regular basis? Almost without exception, it’s because our picture of God is too small.

You see, our trials have a way of revealing our true theology—what we truly think about God. And when we respond to our trials by being overcome with anxiety, that reveals how small our picture of God really is.

We call him “God,” but is he really the God of the Bible? Is he really the God who spoke this universe into existence—who set the sun and the moon in their places and commanded the oceans where they should be? Is he really the God who reigns as Lord over heaven and earth, who says of himself in Isaiah 46:10, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose”? Is he one who is God in fact and not just in name? What small thoughts we often have about God!

That’s why I’ll say very directly, if you want to fix your emotions, you can start by fixing your picture of God. He’s holy! He’s sovereign! As the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar stated after God humbled him, “I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’”

Praise God that he didn’t get the memo that he’s supposed to be small—because he’s not. He’s big--bigger and more powerful and more sovereign than we can imagine.