‘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…’ (vv1–2)
A refuge is a place we run back to. As an injured child turns to a parent for comfort, so we, confused by an unresolved mystery, can run back to God, who offers reassurance and comfort, though the source of our pain remains unresolved. We need to find some comfort when our reaction to such pain is an outburst of emotion.
Our immediate response may be to flee from God to punish Him in some way, or to fall into His arms sobbing with the unresolved confusion that consumes our whole body, mind and spirit. By the nineteenth century, a refuge meant a temporary shelter for the destitute or homeless, an apt description of our situation when our life implodes. But it is temporary because the expectation is that once the storm’s fury has passed, we’ll recover our composure and find a narrative that enables us to continue on our way.
Trouble is all-consuming, demanding everything from us. We’ve little time to pause and think because we must navigate a crisis, external and internal, and we are shocked by the demands it makes on our human resources. But God remains ‘an ever-present help in trouble’. We may need to struggle to discern Him at the height of personal storms – one reason we take time daily in deepening our communication and friendship so that in moments of crisis, turning to God is our instinctive reflex, as unconscious, yet certain, as fleeing a burning building; an instinctive act of self-preservation.
SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Ps. 18:1–19; Ps. 119:25–32; John 14:5–14; Phil. 4:4–13.
AN ACTION TO TAKE: What is your instinctive reaction when the storms of life engulf you? Consider how you will make God your first port of call in future trouble.
A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, my soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word. Amen.’ (Ps. 119:28)