But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.
We often sing the song “God Is Our Refuge” (a song taken direction from Psalm 46) with great joy and confidence, boldly proclaiming God as our shelter, our protector, and our refuge in times of trouble. Yet sometimes I wonder if we truly understand what it means for God to be our refuge.
A refuge by definition is “shelter or protection from danger or distress,” “a place that provides shelter or protection,” and “something to which one has recourse in difficulty” (Merriam-Webster Definition). We don’t seek refuge from clear skies. We don’t seek refuge from green pastures. We don’t seek refuge from peace. We seek refuge from storms, from difficulties, and from the enemy. We seek refuge when things go wrong.
So when we proclaim God as our refuge, we must also understand that trouble accompanies the need for shelter. A life void of trouble requires no need of God to be a refuge. God wouldn’t promise to be a very present help in trouble if we wouldn’t ever face trouble.
Nevertheless, day after day we (me included!) act shocked that “God would allow this to happen.” We are in disbelief that “bad things could happen to good people.” It’s as if our mouths voice that God is our refuge, yet our hearts don’t want to face anything that would require God to be that refuge.
News Flash: We live in a fallen world!
Bad things will happen. People get sick, jobs are lost, family moves away, friends die. One day all appears well–our dreams have become reality; and the next morning we wake up to shattered pieces of what once was. One moment we are surrounded by supporters encouraging us in our walk; the next we are surrounded by the enemy daring us to try to keep moving forward.
Yet God is our refuge.
It in is these very moments of grief, of despair, and of uncertainty when we must not only take refuge under the wings of our Almighty God (Psalm 91), but we must also sing with joy, with boldness, and with confidence that God is indeed our refuge. God is indeed our very present help in trouble. I love that idea: very present. He is not just present; He is very present. He is not standing far off, watching us struggle, and then throwing us a life-preserver. No. He is right there, arms open wide, beckoning us to take shelter, to hide under the shadow of His Almighty wings. He doesn’t throw us a life preserver; He is our life preserver!
Therefore rejoice with me in this: God is our refuge!
Even more, God doesn’t call us to take shelter by huddling in a corner scared, shaking, and fearful. No. He says to rejoice! Rejoice as you take shelter from the storms of life. Rejoice as God shelters you from the attacks of the enemy. Rejoice. Exult. Believe.
God is your refuge.
I repeat: God is your refuge.
So I ask you now: Is life throwing you curve balls? Do you feel as if dreams are shattering, friends are leaving, the enemy is surrounding you? Rejoice! No, I am not asking you to rejoice that you feel neglected, that things are going wrong, that the world seems against you. I am exhorting you to rejoice that God is your refuge. You don’t need to huddle in the corner, fearful of what may happen next. You don’t need to put your head in your hands lamenting what was or what you thought would be. Rather, you need to run to your refuge. Run to God. And as you take shelter, rejoice. Rejoice knowing
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.