God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
“God is my refuge and strength…”
This psalm has been on my heart the last couple of weeks. One reason is that I am currently listening to a song in my prayer/worship time based on one of the verses in this passage. As I shared in our opening prayer a couple of weeks ago, there is a difference in a refuge and an escape. With both, you are looking for a safe place you can run to that will take you away from your present reality. But the difference is an escape is when you are running away from the present reality. You can escape by reading a book, playing a video game, or talking on the phone with a friend. Your focus changes from the present reality with its problems to a different place. It doesn’t matter if life really changes for you. It is simply something that helps you get away from all that life is throwing at you at the moment. It is a place of relief and retreat that gives you a respite long enough to be able to return to your present reality a bit later, none the worse for wear, and hopefully, ready to pick up the gauntlet life has handed you for a season.
But a refuge is a place you run TO when the troubles of your present reality become overwhelming. A refuge is a safe place you can go in which you receive strength for the moment, strength to look beyond yourself and your capabilities, a place where you can truly find rest for your weary soul and encouragement for the days ahead.
Psalm 46 encourages us that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. God is our safe place, our hiding place, that place of safety where no one and nothing from this life can touch us. In that safe place, we can pour out our troubles to the Lord, and tell him about that friend that betrayed us, that moment where we felt afraid, that time of uncertainty where the future looked dark and dismal. And as we pour out our hearts to Him, He can bring us sweet peace by speaking words of comfort or encouragement or simply by resting in His presence.
As children, we all probably played hide and seek. Someone would count to ten and we had those scant seconds to cram our bodies into a tiny space or a dark place where we would not likely be found. We would run into a closet or hide under the bed – places that ordinarily would not stand out as a place we would want to spend time in, perhaps even in places that might normally make us afraid. But we didn’t want to be “IT,” so we would hide somewhere in the dark and giggle when the person who was “IT” walked right past us. Sometimes we would hide somewhere silly, like behind a tree, where we could be easily seen from the right perspective, but in our minds, we were “safe.” We felt invincible in that hiding place, like nothing or no one could touch us.
That is how God wants us to feel when we come to Him and seek Him as our refuge. He doesn’t want us to merely pick up a book and escape into an alternate reality. While that isn’t wrong or sinful, it’s not His best for us.
He wants us to run TO Him when we are feeling overwhelmed. Instead of just picking an alternate activity to calm us, He wants us to run to Him and find that safe place where we can receive His strength instead of walking in our own. He wants us to pick up the Word and receive those words of encouragement that give us strength to try again, strength to continue fighting that battle. And if we will run to Him, even when the days look dark, into a place that would usually cause us fear, we can run there in the confidence that we are not alone. He is with us in that place of refuge. We are safe in that hiding place with Him where the enemy can not only not see us, but he cannot touch us. He can’t jump out of the shadows and pounce on us in that safe place with God. God is not only our refuge, but He is our strength. In that place of refuge and safety, we receive strength by resting in His arms and knowing in those moments we are never truly alone.
The closest thing to that kind of refuge that I could think of is a childhood memory of my daddy rocking me to sleep. As a child, I would climb into his arms in the rocking chair and completely relax. I knew as long as Daddy held me, I was safe. There was nothing that could take me from the comfort of his loving arms. If anything or anyone tried, I knew Daddy was my protector, and that absolutely nothing was capable of ripping me from the safety of His arms. I knew if needed, he would fight for me. It was the safest place in the world, and nothing could touch me there.
God is our refuge today in a world that increasingly makes no sense. Tonight as we wait for the results of a tempestuous election, we can find that place of refuge and strength. We can climb into Daddy God’s arms and know the safety of His love and presence. He will never allow the enemy to take us from Him. He will never allow anything to jump out of the shadows and overwhelm us. He is watching over us and watching over His Word to perform it in our lives. He will not prevent us from leaving, and He will even allow us to walk into scary places where we only think we are safe. But He is never far away, and it is our choice to run to His place of safety or choose our own hiding place in Life’s “Hide and Seek.” There is safety in His arms…find that place of safety and security in Him, your refuge and strength. The choice is up to you.
– Carolyn S Smith