God is Our Refuge and Strength

I grew up in the panhandle of Texas, an area that was and still is pretty notorious for the amount and severity of thunderstorms in the area. It was not uncommon during the spring and early summer for us to hear the tornado sirens and head next door to our neighbors’ basement because we needed a refuge. We needed a safe place to go.

I remember some years ago when I was a college pastor, my wife and I were leading a mission trip in eastern Africa and we had driven into the Sahara desert in two four wheel drive pickup trucks. We went out a little further than we should have, and stayed a little longer than we should have, and the desert around us got very dark very quickly. I felt exposed, in danger, and confused, and what I wanted more than anything was a refuge. We needed to find a place of safety.

On a lighter note, I am an introvert. If we are at a party or another event and we have been there for some time, you’ll probably find me eventually migrating to a chair in the corner, or perhaps even spending a little more time in the restroom than I actually need to. Once again, I will be looking for a place of safety.

We all need a refuge, and because we do, Psalm 46 is good news:

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 (Psalm 46:1-3).

This is good news! That we have a place of strength and power to which we can turn. That even when the foundations of reality are shaking there is somewhere we can go to find peace and safety. But it’s also important to note that the very idea of needing a refuge implies a threat. The whole reason we need a safe place to begin with is because someone or something has made it unsafe for us. And for that reason, we must not only think of God as our refuge because of our particular circumstances.

We must also see God as our only refuge… from God.

We might look at Psalm 46 and see God as a stronghold when times are tough. When the money is lean or the health isn’t right. When the relationships are falling away and the future is uncertain. But we must also look at it and recognize that all of us were once under the just judgment of God for our sin. We were destined to go down into Sheol as a consequence for our rebellion. God was against us. We were his enemies. But here, from this viewpoint, we find the shadow of the gospel.

Because when we were enemies of God, God chose to become our refuge. He imposed His judgment upon Himself at the cross. He took His own wrath that we might be safe in His arms. When God was against us, He was also for us. So when we were running from Him, the only place for us to go was to Him.

The punishment of God, on God, has brought us peace. We can turn to Jesus – to God – and find refuge from Him because He loves us.

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