REFUGE FOR THE WEARY
7 "TheLord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him" Nahum 1:7
Refuge is a word that many people can say but most people truly do not fully understand. As we look throughout the Bible, we recognize that the first time that we see the term refuge is when Cain kills his brother Able and flees to a city of refuge. He goes to a place where he can find protection and rest from his actions. Yes, I know that as soon as you read this there are two things that are going to come to your minds. First, how was he able to go to a city... and where could anyone go to find refuge from actions away from God. Those are both stories for another day, but for today let me just give you a basic understanding of the word refuge. Refuge means: a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble; something providing shelter. In both of these definitions, people are seeking shelter from fear of harm. As we look at our own lives, have we even been in a situation to where we needed to seek refuge? And if we have, were we able to find it? I know that for me there are only certain places that I have ever felt safe, one being my parents house when I was little, and the other being a space up in the mountains where God and I connected and He told me that everything was going to be ok. From that time on, I have had mild bouts of fear and concern, but I have truly felt the protection of God and the assurances of His promises to a completely different level in my life.
As we are seeking refuge from harm, I want to continue to encourage all of us to recognize that we are never alone. Even in the moments where we feel so isolated and uncertain, God is right there beside us to provide others that will walk with us every step of the way. God knows exactly when and what we need and the sooner we are capable of fully relying on God, the quicker we will be able to fine a strong place of refuge for our lives. God created us
for connection and continues to find ways to encourage us to do the same for others. Having this group that holds us accountable but also provides a safe space is so needed in this day and age. Are there people that are in your life that can help you find refuge? Are there people who really mean what they say and can are they able to have the honest conversations that we need to hear. Refuge is not just the ability to run and take cover, but the opportunity that we have to realize that God is wanting to restore and refine our lives through the situations that occur. Remember refuge is not just a location that keeps us safe but the condition of being safe from harm... even from ourselves. It is powerful to watch people who are able to get to the center of the issues and come out of it refocused and restored as they take their next steps with God. Refuge is so much more than just a word, but an ability to truly dig deep and feel completely shelter from any harm that may come at us.
As we look at the words from Nahum today it is not one that truly shows that God is all peaceful. No, on the contrary, we are able to see that passion that God has in wanting His creation to do and be good. As I say this, please do not put on a human quality for God, but God is a jealous God. He created us to have community and fellowship with Him. We are able to see that many times throughout the Bible, God's people turned from their connection with God and that resulted in a lot of bad situations. God was and is always there for His people and continues to allow them to overcome the mess that they have gotten themselves into because of their actions and lack of faith. God as protector also means that God had to allow those who failed to follow His commands to suffer the punishment that they received because of their inability to submit to God. Nahum is right t in the middle of watching God's people struggle and God's foes be destroyed. God's love is something that was truly hard to understand before the life of Jesus, but it was one that the early followers found as a place of refuge and strength. Nahum is speaking in the midst of all of the chaos and reminds us that the Lord is good. The Lord will continue to supply for the needs of His people, and be a refuge for those in trouble. Never does Nahum say that God is going to get them out of the trouble, but to protect them as they walk through the fire that was caused by their decisions. God was their strength and refuge that they were able to draw from in times of need. He was their complete sustenance when they had no food or water. He was their rock when they needed strength to stand. God is our shelter in times of need, but never did it say that God was going to not allow us to suffer for our actions of sin.
Today, I ask us to look into that last understanding of refuge. God is going to be there to protect us, but that there are consequences that we will still face because of our actions. God will walk with us through the fire, but we still have to go through the fire. Refuge is a part of the assurance that we receive from God as a testing of our faith. I know that it seems
really backward sometimes in our minds, but God is always there. He is just wanting for us to recognize our failures and ask for help from the one who will sustain us in times of trouble. I remember one time when my brother got into some trouble and was actually arrested. My dad had the money and the connections to get him out and bring him home. Instead, my dad went and spoke to my brother and told him that everything was going to be ok. He told him he was safe and that he would be there in the morning to pick him up. My dad played a vital roll in helping my brother to recognize the poor decisions that he had made. My dad did not love him any less. My dad reminded him that he loved him and everything was going to be ok. But he did not take away the consequence. God did give us a refuge through Christ who took away our wage of death for our sins, but God, just like my father, says it's going to be ok. I still love you.. but there is a debt we must pay for our actions. We draw strength through those moments from a God that loves us so much that He became our refuge and strength. Take hold of the day and be thankful for the refuge we find in Him.