Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you wished there was a safe place you could run to and leave all the stress and everything else behind? Days and perhaps weeks when it seemed like whatever could go wrong went wrong and it was just too much to handle? Despite our profession of faith and our resolve to be good followers of Jesus, we find ourselves struggling with life and what we perceive to be its unfairness. Times when we should recognize the fact that other people are dealing with far more challenging situations than ours, yet we feel little relief in that while in the midst of our own struggles. I have been there and it can be a somewhat frightening place to be.
These thoughts and more came to mind as I reflected on the words of the psalmist in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (KJV). In the Amplified translation it reads, “God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.” One of the things that “jumped” out at me was the point of focus in the midst of everything that was going on. Often times our focus is on the issues, the things that provoke our anxieties, but the psalm begins with the focus on who God is as well as His power and ability: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” and because of that reality, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken and slip into the heart of the seas, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its roaring” (vv. 2-3, AMP).
The events he described were enough to provoke fear in the hearts of anyone witnessing them. However, because of who God is, “we will not fear.” Not only could the people trust in Him who was their refuge and strength, the circumstances they faced did not mean they were abandoned by Him, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold [our refuge, our high tower]” (v. 7). The psalmist David echoed the same sentiment of finding refuge in God when he wrote, “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and weak; lead me to the rock that is higher than I [a rock that is too high to reach without Your help]. For You have been a shelter and a refuge for me, a strong tower against the enemy” (Psalm 61:1-3, AMP).
A shelter, a refuge, a strong tower; exactly what we need in those times when we are overwhelmed by some of life’s circumstances. It is comforting to know we do not have to take refuge in things that provide temporary relief/satisfaction. In the midst of our anxieties, may we be reminded of God’s word through the psalmist, “Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). So let us quiet our hearts and take shelter in Him. Breathe. Exhale. Trust Him. The situations we face are no match for the awesomeness of the God we serve.