Nobody feels like confident singing when calamity strikes. But Psalm 46 is a three-stanza song for the worst of disasters.

The first stanza starts with the most comforting truth about God during disaster, but ends with what would certainly be in the top three natural disasters of history. “God is our place of safety and help” opens the stanza that ends with a disaster that combines an earthquake with a mountain slide with a tsunami with the force to shake the cliffs next to the sea.

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

Psalm 46:1-3 (ESV)

Then the second stanza does a most strange thing. The Psalmist takes the visual of water that is so evident part of the disaster, and turns it into a visual aid to think of a heavenly water reality – the river of life flowing through the celestial city. That is a place of joy, holiness, God’s presence, and God’s help. No matter how much the greatest of earthly powers shake and shatter, God cannot be moved.

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. Selah

Psalm 46:4-7 (ESV)

Back to the earthly disaster, stanza three describes the faith of the heavenly minded during earthly disaster. The heavenly minded acknowledge the desolations of earth, but also acknowledge the hand of God in it all – especially his work of ending it all. The heavenly minded knows that the God in control of disaster is also the God Who watches over those who know about His exalted position.

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. Selah

Psalm 46:8-11 (ESV)

God is indeed God, and those who acknowledge it find even disaster to be an occasion for worship.