“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. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;God will help her when morning dawns.” (Psalm 46:1-5)
During thunderstorms when I was a young child I would go to my parent’s room or be around siblings to feel safe. Even though it was raining, thundering and lightning outside, I knew I was safe inside. There was a tendency as I got older to lean on my own strengths. As many families do, my siblings and I would have meaningless competitions, such as who could lift the heaviest stone when picking stones for a farmer. Other competitions included who could run the fastest or throw the football the best. There were times this would trickle into trial and trouble. We thought we had things figured out, had all the answers to get out of trouble, or could take refuge in other things. There is always the temptation to take refuge in ourselves, which never brings lasting comfort.
As we get older we see the same with our own children or the youth in our congregations. The temptation for them also, is to take refuge and strength in themselves. They have the need to be independent, but at times they may feel independent to the point of managing life completely on their own. We know from experience where this will end up.
Isaiah 43:1-3 says God will take care of us: “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God,the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.'” God was the refuge and strength for the writer of Psalm 46. God was the refuge for the Israelites in Egypt and in the desert. God took care of Esther, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they faced trial and trouble. God is the refuge and strength for us in every time of trouble. We have refuge in God from the biggest trouble of all–our sin. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. Baptized into His death and life, we have our refuge in Him.
In all of these times, it is our God who never left. Psalm 46 and Isaiah 43 state clearly that God leads us, He is right there with us. His refuge and strength are not things we have to find or search for; they are already present day after day in Word and Sacrament. It is in Word and Sacrament where Jesus strengthens faith and gives forgiveness of sins. When trials come, we are confident Jesus is our refuge and strength as we rest in His hands.
Published April 2012