7th December 2022Psalm 46:1
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Imagine you’re fleeing war. You’ve lost your home, you’re injured and enemy soldiers are hot on your tail. You’re hungry, cold, homeless and your life is in danger. Then suddenly, you lift your eyes to the horizon and see a man. A huge man, smiling at you. He comes alongside you and tells you it’s okay now. As the enemy soldiers approach he speaks to them, you don’t know what he says but they leave you in peace. The man takes you to a refugee camp, makes sure you are fed, given clean clothes and a place to sleep.
That’s the image of the kind of ‘help’ God provides us with throughout the Psalms, a rescuer, coming over the horizon, a source of strength and support who walks alongside us, fights our battles with us, keeps us safe. A sort of “Knight in Shining Armour”, appearing on a white charger.
It’s also the kind of “help” Eve is described as in Genesis 2. The Hebrew word “ezer” that we translate as “help” is far more often used to describe God throughout the Old Testament.
One of my mother’s favourite stories to tell my friends is the one about my first boyfriend, Colin. We were seven years old. Sarah Ferguson, my namesake, had just married a Prince and I was obsessed with becoming a princess, and of course, being rescued by a knight in shining armour. On a trip to the park I apparently found myself at the top of a very steep hill where I shouted
“Come and rescue me Colin, I’m a damsel in distress”
I don’t know if boys grow up with the desire to rescue a beautiful princess in the way some little girls grow up hoping for their prince charming. Given the storyline of most action movies I’m guessing they do. But God didn’t design women to simply look to the heroic man and say “what do we do now” in fact, God created women to be the rescuer, the knight on a white charger, the ezer. And as Deborah, Huldah, Miriam, Jael, Rahab, Abigail and the women at the tomb show us, women are perfectly capable of showing up and being the “very present help in times of great need”
The word ‘ezer’ in Genesis is followed by the word ‘kenegdo’. This word means “equally matched” or “in perfect harmony” it conjures up an image of a perfectly balanced scale. Two people, walking completely in step with one another, to work together, to worship together, to care for this planet and each other and reflect the wonderful harmony that is God.
Guys, we still want you to rescue us, to stand up for us, to say “not okay mate” when you hear some sexist claptrap fall from the mouth of another guy. But we want to rescue you too. We see the harm to you caused by broken notions of masculinity, we see you hide your pain, we see you try to be tough when you don’t feel like it, we see you work hard to provide when you’re just so tired. We want to work with you, we want to listen, we want to bear your burdens, you don’t always have to be the strong one. Maybe we all need a knight in shining armour from time to time.
16days #16daysofactivism #orangetheworld