The tagline of our new series at Trinity Church is “Finding God as your refuge when facing fear.” How do you find God as your refuge when facing fear? I’ve asked a number of my colleagues to share their answers each week as we progress through our STILL sermon series over the next six weeks. My hope is that we all might gain practical tools for how to do this better.
The STILL series kicked off with a very helpful message on Sunday, Though the Earth Give Way, team-taught by Todd Arnett and Walter Linn. Psalm 46 is best known for verse ten, the one phrase where God speaks. “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’” (Psalms 46:10 NIV11). But God speaks based on the truth the Sons of Korah repeat three times, that God is with us. Verse one begins, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” It was this reality of God as an ever-present help that came alive to me a year ago as I entered a time of parenting “trouble” that caused me to fear. I’m still in it, learning how to make the Lord my refuge.
There are two things that came to mind as I listened to the message on Sunday. First, if the Lord is our refuge, that means that we are refugees. The picture comes to mind of desperate people fleeing their homeland, crossing the border to find refuge, to find freedom. Refugees are needy and incapable of finding their own way out of their “trouble.” Finding God as our refuge only happens when we admit or “confess” our need and flee to him for help. Todd pointed out that the Hebrew word God uses when he says, “be still,” means to “sink” as if resting in a chair, going limp, giving up the struggle and putting our complete weight and dependence onto the Father. Another English translation for “be still” is “cease striving.” We don’t have to run far to find our refuge. He is ever-present. Our refuge is not a place, but a person. The refrain of Psalm 46 repeats, “The Lord Almighty is with us[!]” I try to begin each day before I get out of bed admitting to him any fears I am facing, and that I don’t have what it takes to face them on my own. I begin my day asking him for help. Coming to my Father reminds me that I am dependent upon his perfect love and strength. Then I try to walk through my day mindful that he is “ever-present,” a refuge and strength available at every moment in whatever circumstances I face.
Second, Psalm 46 says that God is “our” refuge and strength. Todd reminded us that this psalm is communal, written in 1st person plural for a community of people, not just for an individual. Our Enemy would like us to believe that we are alone in our trouble so we will hide in shame. But the reality is that we are not alone. God has placed us in a community of his people. I am blessed to have a small group of colleagues, friends and family who I can be completely transparent with when I am facing troubles. Yesterday, I prayed with two colleagues on separate occasions about my “trouble,” and also prayed with my small group in the evening. This wouldn’t happen if I was hiding in shame. Praying with these friends and knowing that they are praying for me is perhaps the most meaningful way I make the Lord my refuge in times of trouble.
Todd’s closing point on Sunday was to “pray more than you worry.” Slowly but surely, I’m learning how to do that. I’m thankful for our Trinity Church prayer core who proposed the idea for this series of articles. They are “on call,” ready to pray with any of you who have needs. Please take advantage of this following our worship services or by sending your prayer requests to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.