One of the words most commonly used to describe God in the Old Testament might surprise you. The reason why I bring up the Old Testament is because I’ve found that when I am leading a Bible study, we tend to think that in the Old Testament that God is this big, angry, wrathful judge. Then, when we read the New Testament, He’s warm, fuzzy, and cuddly Jesus.
However, in the Old Testament, one of the most common words used to describe God is the word refuge. In Psalm 46, it opens by saying:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” – Psalm 46:1
In Psalm 91, it says:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:1-2
God being described as a refuge is a common theme in Scripture. If you look at what a refuge is, it’s a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble. In other words, when you find yourself in a scary situation, one of the things you want to do is you want to take refuge. We even have people living in the United States where their status is refugee, which means they are a group of people seeking refuge. It’s a condition of seeking shelter or safety.
When you take refuge, it doesn’t mean the danger has gone away. It doesn’t mean your condition has changed. But what a refuge enables you to do is it enables you to take a breath. It enables you to rest. It enables you to reframe your conditions. It also enables you to gather strength as well go out and face your circumstances rather than stay hidden. I just want to remind you today that you and I can take shelter in the Lord. Here’s what it looks like for me: on my way into work, I think about God, I pray to him, I rejoice in him and I’ll sometimes recite scriptures that I’ve memorized on my way home. Sometimes I turn everything off and just take a few minutes to pray because I know that when I get home, I’m going to be walking into a warzone with two teenagers at home who keep forgetting that the living room isn’t their bedroom. Or before I go into a meeting, I just take a minute and I think about that as refuge and I take comfort in that.
One of the things that I love about a refuge is that it’s also a place where you can feel peace in a very unpeaceful time. Remember that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.