“The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. Psalm 11:4
I have a friend who says, “Through the years I have seen a lot of things change, and I have been against them all!” Change can be very unsettling. It interrupts the predictability and comfort of having things just the way we like them. But even for the most “I like it the way it has always been, thank you!” kind of people, we have to admit that there are some advantages to change. I can remember when you had to crank a handle to roll up a car window. Now you just push a button. Rather than waiting in line for a mumps immunization given by a stern-faced school nurse with what seemed like a foot-long needle, now all kids have to do is swallow something that tastes like bubble gum.
But as welcome as some changes may be, change can sometimes create serious problems. When our lives are impacted by sudden change that turns life upside down, it can be spiritually dangerous. Ending up in the ditch can easily make us feel a little shaky about our faith in God. That’s the kind of change the psalmist wrote about in Psalm 11:1-7—the kind of change that threatened everything he believed. How do we respond when the foundation of our faith begins to wobble, when our troubling circumstances make us question God?
The psalmist says that radical change can either foster debilitating fear or confident faith. Fear haunts our hearts when all we can ask is “What am I to do?” Faith cuts to the exclamation point: The Lord is in control! In the first half of Psalm 11:1-7, David wrings his hands as he describes the fear of losing everything—his kingdom, his reputation, his faith because of circumstances out of his control. You may be buckling under the weight of fear because your world is falling apart. But like David, you can turn your heart to the Lord and declare, “The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord is on His heavenly throne” (Psalm 11:4). His throne is the symbol of His sovereign oversight and authority over all things. David moved from fear to faith by focusing on the exclamation point of God’s rule in his life and not on the question marks of the devastating changes in his life.
Old silent movies often included a scene where the villain tied a beautiful heroine to the train tracks. In great fear, she kicks and screams as the chugging locomotive heads straight toward her sweet little body. But we know she won’t die there. Just in the nick of time, the hero will emerge from the forest and cut the ropes delivering her to safety as he carries her away into the sunset. You can count on it: God will be there for you, even if it’s just in the nick of time!
Psalm 42:5 declares, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” That must be why the psalmist said, “There they were, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread” (Psalm 53:5).
In the midst of the changing circumstances of life, we have a choice. We can live in fear of all the uncertainties, or we can cling to the reality of God’s sustaining and intervening presence in our lives. When we find our strength in the fact that our Almighty God is on the throne and has everything under control, the defeating question marks are replaced with the confidence of His exclamation points, and that’s a welcome change!