Wednesday, October 30, 2013

God is Our Refuge

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Psalm 46:1-7
How do you plan to protect yourself? Our culture today seems obsessed with security, comfort, and protection. We have insurance plans, seat belts, pepper spray...the list could go on and on. But none of these things really have the power to prevent bad things from happening to us; they just help blunt the blow a little. In Psalm 46 we are introduced to a much superior protection plan.
This Psalm is written to God's people dwelling in God's city known as Zion or Jerusalem. Jerusalem was built on a hill that is surrounded by valleys and other hills. It was thought by many to be impenetrable until King David captured it and made it the capital of Israel (2 Sam. 5:6-12). Like most major cities of its day it was surrounded by high walls. These walls were designed to keep enemies out. It was their refuge. Anytime a warring nation attacked the Israelites they would run to the city where they would be safe. They would trust in their strategic placement on the mount, in their walls, and in their military might to keep their enemies out. This is human nature.
Yet the psalmist argues something else is the true source of Israel's (and by extension the Christian's) security. God alone is our refuge. He is an ever-present help in trouble. When trouble is headed your way, He is always easy to find. He is right there by your side. As the apostle Paul says- "If God be for us, then who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31). The answer of course is no one of any consequence.

All of this carries important implications for the believer. Because God is our protection, "we will not fear." No matter how bad things are, there can be no reason to fear when you rest securely inside a fortress as strong and impenetrable as our God. He is the reason Christians for centuries have been able to stand before enemies of the cross and boldly proclaim the truth of Jesus without fear even when they knew it might mean their life. They knew that nothing could hurt them apart from God's will.
Even when God is your refuge bad things can still happen to you. But when Christians suffer it is not for lack of defense, or lack of refuge, or lack of preparation on God's part, it is because He has allowed it to happen. There are times when God allows us to suffer. Sometimes it is to discipline us and bring us back to Him. Sometimes it is to challenge us toward growth and spiritual maturity. Sometimes it is because He knows that it is through our suffering that His name will be glorified and an audience will be won for the gospel. But no Christian suffers in vain. As Psalm 116:15 says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants." God does not take the death or suffering of believers lightly, any more than He took the suffering of His Son lightly. And even when we suffer, He is there with us in our pain.
So what do you trust in for your protection? I'm not saying that insurance plans or seat belts are bad, but they shouldn't be your hope for protection. David didn't tear down the walls around Jerusalem, but He knew from where His true protection came. Only God has the power to prevent bad things from happening to you. And with Him you can be sure that when suffering does find you it isn't because of a loophole in your insurance underwriter or because your seat belt malfunctioned. He allowed it for a reason and He will see you through it. Remind yourself today that God is your refuge. Whatever trouble you are facing run to Him for help. Run to God right now. Tell Him what troubles you are facing and ask Him for protection.
For further reading...
  • Psalm 46- Read the whole Psalm.
  • Romans 8:18-39- A beautiful passage on suffering and God's protection.
  • Isaiah 30- Read of God's anger when Israel turns to Egypt's military might for refuge instead of turning to Him.

No comments: