Where do we go for refuge?
(Jim Heddles is a member of Grace's Foundations Team.)
- a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.
- something providing shelter
Do we feel threatened, in danger, pursued by a threat? Are we looking for a safe place, a place of refuge? Our current times are full of a new threat, COVID-19, an invisible, worldwide threat for which military power, financial wealth, and academic degrees are no protection.
So where do we go for refuge? The Bible is full of stories of people like us, in danger who were looking for refuge. Dealing with fear is one of the most common topics throughout the Bible.
In Psalm 18 we read that "God is a shield to all those who take refuge in Him". The Psalms are full of encouragement to take refuge in God. But what does it mean to take refuge in God? Is there a secret spiritual bubble somewhere that I can crawl into and be safe from all viruses?
In Psalm 62 we read, "O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge." I found two key encouragements in this verse: "trust in Him" and "pour out your hearts".
Trusting in Him is referring to our faith. Not theological truths that we agree with in our intellect, but what we rely on and count on as true for our current and future well-being. I put my confidence in Him, our loving Father, because He cares deeply about me, He loves me. And He loves you. He is all powerful and has purposes that will not be thwarted. Whatever my situation, God asks me to not be afraid, to take refuge in Him, to trust in His deep mercy, compassion, and personal interest in me. And to have confidence that He will work out His purposes in the best way possible.
The psalmist also spoke about pouring out our hearts to God. This is easier for some than others. I've come across some articles this week about the importance of acknowledging our grief, anger, and disappointment in the current crisis. To not ignore it or hide it under a stoic face. It is appropriate and healthy to express our emotions and concerns to God. He cares about us and delights in listening to us. The Psalms contain many examples of people expressing their frustration, fears, concerns, and situation to God. He is not offended by our emotions and feelings; we need to express them. With that, He also wants us to take time to be still and know that He is present and caring.
If we put our confidence in His love, talk to Him about how we are doing, and take time to be quiet with Him, we will be taking refuge in the only true and perfect shelter.
May our confidence, trust and refuge be in Him.
I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Some verses on refuge: