Monday, October 14, 2019

Finding our Refuge

Earlier last century, one of our presidents was returning to the US aboard a ship from Europe. When they pulled into New York harbor an enormous crowd was there to cheer and receive the president back home. He was the first to disembark. Everyone else had to wait and watch. One couple leaning against the railing was a missionary and his wife, retiring after forty years on the mission field. The man said, “You’d think after all we’ve done for the Lord, all the sacrifice and suffering, there would be at least someone to meet us here at the dock and celebrate us coming home.”
His wife said, “But we’re not home yet.”

Rev 21:3-4 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." 

Until that day, we live in the land of the unexpected, of tears and death and mourning and crying and pain. We have bodies that wear out, relationships that grow sour, disease and illness that can take us down, accidents and issues that rob us of joy and darken our ability to anticipate God’s intervention. We have storms that can sneak in on us and flood our world. Or that can rage against us and change the very landscape of our lives.

My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death [fear of dying or misery of his circumstances] have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would wander far away. I would lodge in the wilderness. I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest. (Ps 55:4-8)

We’ve been there. Honestly, some of us are there right now. Feeling anguish from the anger of the storm. Wanting to get out of it but can’t. What do we do? Where do we turn? How do we hasten to our place of refuge? David gives us our answer:

Ps 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

David uses a word for trouble that simply means: pressing in. It’s a broad and general word that covers any circumstances that we would describe as trouble. David didn’t specify what kind of trouble. He wanted what he was saying to apply to any trouble.

We like to be different, to think what we are going through is unique, nobody knows the trouble we’ve seen, obviously what I’m going through is so serious there couldn’t be any solution available.

So, to make sure we realize whatever we’re facing qualifies for God’s help, he just
says trouble, then gives the promise: God is our help.

Ps 46:2-3 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. Stop and think about this.

Worst case scenario. What’s the worst thing we can imagine? Then fit your circumstances in there somewhere below worst case scenario and since God can handle worst case scenarios, you have nothing to be afraid of.

Ps 46:4-5 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 

Rivers were sources of life, provision. Communities develop near rivers. The river meets the people’s needs. In David’s mind, the river is evidence of the presence of God meeting our needs. All we need is flowing through that river. 

Then he says: God will help her when morning dawns. Night beings fear, loneliness and foreboding. We typically just want to get through the night and get it over with. But David lived with confidence that each morning brought the new day and no matter how dark the night, he anticipated the new day would bring his help.

Ps 46:6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. 
Much distress came against that city, but when God spoke, everything changed. David saw much trouble in Jerusalem, many storms, but his experience showed him whatever he saw wasn’t final because God hadn’t spoken yet.

Vance Havner – living in the great not yet. Between cry and answer. Between prayer and response. Between promise and provision.

Present circumstances don’t indicate what God is doing. What do we hold onto?

Ps 46:7 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. 

That same God David found absolutely faithful in his life is with us. As he was David’s refuge and stronghold, He is ours as well. David had trusted and found God able. So, he could say, “Let me tell you about the God who cares for you.” 

If you need a guide to get you through harsh and unpredictable territory, you want someone who’s been there and knows how to get through.

Ps 46:8-9 Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. 

Behold the works of the LORD: Look at what God has already done to meet the needs of His people and accomplish His good purposes in their behalf. That’s why we read our Bibles. Every page encourages us to trust Him more as we learn He is without limit.

He has never failed. Me and my troubles will not become the exception that ruins His perfect record. So…

Ps 46:10 Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." 

Cease striving, be still, stop churning over things we cannot control, trust in the God who writes the final chapter. And however long the storm lasts, be assured of this…

Ps 46:11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. 

The Lord is with us. The most powerful words of comfort and hope to face any trouble.

Do you remember as a kid waking from a nightmare to find your mom sitting there saying, “It’s alright, Mommy’s here.” Those words shattered your fear. Why? Because we believed if Mommy or Daddy was there, nothing could happen to us.

Mark 4:36-40 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" 
What was the problem? Jesus was there. But they hadn’t learned to trust Him yet.
On God my salvation rests; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. (Ps 62:7-8)
He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is big enough for whatever you face. (Ps 91:4)

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until this distress passes by. (Ps 57:1)

Don’t think for a moment that God doesn’t know how much it hurts, how broken are our hearts, how painful are our thoughts, how deep the darkness, how long the night. But also, don’t think for moment any of that changes the fact that God is here, taking care of His child. Nothing can stop God from taking care of you right now, in the midst of whatever storm is raging against you.
Why doesn’t God just take away the storms? Because, we’re not home yet. Until then, storms will come and go. But the presence of God in our lives is our assurance He will help us in all our troubles.

  1. It’s great to believe; it’s greater to trust.
  2. When the God who cannot lie tells us He is with us, we can count on that being true.
  3. Since He has never failed even one of His children, rest assured He will not fail you.
  4. Hang on through the night because joy comes in the morning.