Our Very Present Help in Time of Trouble
by Joseph Franks
The Psalmist encouraged his fellow worshipers to turn their eyes towards heaven with adoration and delight. Even though they could not see God, he was their friend. Yahweh was their refuge, their strength, their help, and their comforter.
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.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46)
Consider the confidence enjoyed by the disciples. God Almighty, in human flesh, walked in their midst. He was their Wonderful Counselor, their Mighty God, their Everlasting Father, their Prince of Peace, and their dinner guest. Jesus was their best friend who stuck closer than any brother. He was as intimate and close to them as a bridegroom courting his beloved. No greater love and confidence could ever be experienced, for there was a man willing to give his life for his friends. Oh how they loved his words, “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) Jesus was their refuge, their strength, their help, and their comforter.
Now, with all this in mind, consider the confidence to be enjoyed by men and women who have been instructed by the Psalmist, indoctrinated by the disciples, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and betrothed to Christ Jesus:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:16-21)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:26-27)
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you … When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:7-15)
Friends, are you going though a time of trouble? Is all about you quaking and does your life seem to be falling apart? In your conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil, do they seem to be winning and does it look like you are going down for the count? Can you hardly pray due to the heartbreak of an unfaithful spouse, an unwise child, an unhealthy body, or an uncharitable neighbor? Do you need help? Do you need wisdom right now? Are you groaning? Well, here is some good news, you are not the only one groaning:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)
Consider what we have learned this morning. You do not have to look up into the heavens to find God. And you do not have to look out the front door waiting for him to walk up your sidewalk to eat dinner with you. He dwells with you and in you. He is nearer to you than the Psalmist. He is near to you than the Apostle. You are his holy dwelling place. You are his sanctuary. You are his temple, and he will never leave or forsake you.
So put not your trust in yourself. You have not been able to provide consistent self-comfort … have you?
Put not your trust in things of this world. They may momentarily soothe, but they will not be a continual help in your time of trouble. After the initial high, you will find yourself more miserable than at first.
And put not your trust in men — whether they be popes or divines or popular religious icon. They too will not be a continual help in your time of trouble. Even the best of churchmen and church friends are impotent to fix your soul, and sometimes you will find them to be like Job friends; they were no help at all.
Believer, you are not God, but God dwells in you. He is near. He is close. He is always talking to the other members of the Trinity about you, and he is waiting for you to talk with him. You are so hurting, and he is so present. You are in trouble, and he is ready to be your Wonderful Counselor, your Mighty God, your Everlasting Father, your Prince of Peace, your Best Friend, and your Heavenly Lover. So put down your computer, tablet, phone, or electronic device. Turn off the radio or the TV. Quit texting and talking to your friends. The Holy Spirit is with you; he is your very present help in your time of trouble.