1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame!
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
    incline your ear to me, and save me!
Be to me a rock of refuge,
    to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.

Psalm 71:1-3

In the ancient world, villages, peoples, and armies sought protection in a refuge or a fortress. If you’ve read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, or seen the movies, think Helm’s Deep. The fortress was a place of retreat and defense. It was a shelter.

The psalmist affirms here that the Lord is our refuge, our rock, our fortress.

It is easy for our circumstances and situations in life to overwhelm us. Cancer, covid, catastrophes, raising teenagers, job difficulties, death, disease, interpersonal conflicts, or any number of other events and circumstances can trouble us.

In David’s case, he spent years wandering from rock to cave hiding out from King Saul who wanted to take his life. And David sought the Lord’s protection, and the Lord protected David. Time and again David trusted in the Lord, and the Lord delivered.

Whatever your frustration or concern, your worry or fear, your enemy or your challenge, take refuge in the Lord. But how can we seek refuge in the Lord?

  • Seek refuge in the Lord’s Words. When you make time to read, study, meditate, memorize, and apply God’s Word, you are taking in God’s thoughts. Much of our frustration, worry, and fear derive from a worried mind and burdened thoughts. So dwell on God’s thoughts. Think on his promises. Find refuge in his Words.
  • Seek refuge in the Lord’s presence. Many of us like to solve problems. We like the challenge of navigating a situation, figuring out the next steps, and planning for success. But often we remain stressed and frustrated because we are seeking refuge in our own answers. Pray. Bring your situations to the Lord specifically and intentionally. Seek his presence through prayer.
  • Seek refuge in the the Lord’s people. While our final and ultimate hope cannot be in others and must be in God alone, God did not create us to be alone. God created us for community. He created us to encourage and support one another. Find a friend you trust who is spiritually maturing and share your burden with them. Just someone else aware of your burden and praying for you can aid you in finding refuge in the Lord. Also, intercessory prayer for each other is a heavenly means of experiencing refuge in the Lord.

When we are in need, we need to find refuge in the Lord. Our situations and burdens are not for us alone. God grants them to us or allows us to experience them precisely because he wants us to seek refuge in him. He also wants to use our experience of seeking refuge in the Lord as a means of testimony to others.

Note how the psalmist closes this hymn:

17O God, from my youth you have taught me,
    and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18 So even to old age and gray hairs,
    O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
    your power to all those to come.

19 Your righteousness, O God,
    reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
    O God, who is like you?
20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
    will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will bring me up again.
21 You will increase my greatness
    and comfort me again.
22 I will also praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
    O Holy One of Israel.

23 My lips will shout for joy,
    when I sing praises to you;
    my soul also, which you have redeemed.

24 And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long,
for they have been put to shame and disappointed
    who sought to do me hurt.

Psalm 71:17-24 (emphasis mine)

After David sought refuge in the Lord, he promised to testify of the Lord’s goodness to the next generation (v. 18), to praise the Lord’s faithfulness (v. 22), to respond with praise and song (v. 23), and to tell of the Lord’s righteous help “all day long” (v. 24).

When God comes through, we don’t need to remain silent. This is another important reason for God’s people to be apart of our search for refuge. They are witnesses to our situations as well as witnesses to God’s provisions. God’s people are also part of our audience for declaring his praises and his interventions.

So, think back to how God has been your refuge. Share that praise with someone! And by all means, seek the Lord for refuge today.

Sometimes, pastoral ministry flows along at a comfortable pace. Sometimes, I get in good reading and study rhythms, healthy prayer rhythms, and regular leadership and ministry rhythms. But at other times, the needs and concerns in our church family can be many.

In the last couple of weeks at our church, we’ve had several deaths, a stroke, family and friends with severe covid cases, emergency surgeries, scheduled surgeries, family members moved to hospice care, both unexpected and expected hospital stays, individuals with multiple surgeries, and numerous other burdens too sensitive to mention.

Just this morning, I messaged more than 10 people in our congregation who are going through specific, ongoing challenges in their lives or the lives of family members.

Just this morning, as I was writing this post, a fellow pastor called. He and his church are dealing with a Covid-19 outbreak at his church. We talked through the challenges this situation provides.

Sometimes, the weight of what we are dealing with and the burdens of others can be overwhelming. We need help.

The good thing is that when we need help, God is ever-present to provide.

In my quiet time this week, I read Psalm 9. It is a chapter referencing God’s deeds, his deeds of wonder and of judgment. Two verses struck me powerfully.

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 9:9-10

Somebody reading this needs to remember that the Lord is with you in times of trouble. A stronghold is a place of protection and defense. It is armed and defended not by human armies or powers, but by the Lord himself. Go to the Lord.

Somebody reading this needs to put their trust in the Lord. Certainly, if you are not yet a follower of Jesus, I would commend you to saving faith. Trust in the Lord Jesus alone and you will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). But saving faith is the foundation for living faith. Follower of Jesus, continue to trust in the Lord. If you know him by name, count on him. Take your burdens to him. Pray to him.

Somebody reading this needs to know that you are not forsaken. At times, our situations and burdens make us feel helpless. They are overwhelming, discouraging, and disconcerting. If we look too long at our difficulties, we will despair. But God has not left you. He will not forsake you. Seek him.

As Peter cried to the Lord when he was sinking in the Sea of Galilee, cry to the Lord from the sea of your circumstances. Know that he hears. Remember that he is there.

He does hear us.

In the midst of the difficulties of this week, God has answered many of the prayers and burdens above. The Lord gave abounding grace in an emergency surgery answering our prayers that the surgery went even better than expected. The Lord gave strength and provision to folks facing disheartening difficulties. The Lord gave encouragement through the truths of his Word as testified by some of these we’ve been praying for. And the Lord answered prayers and brought very sick folks home from Covid hospitalizations.

So, trust in the Lord.

Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash