Reminder of Refuge
By Anthony Casperson

It’s often difficult to live out the things you know to be true of God and his work in our lives. None feel this truth of difficulty more than those struggling with reliance on God while also called to remind God’s people of his place as our refuge.

Earlier this week, I heard a sermon where the preacher spoke about keeping the right perspective about the bigness of God throughout the difficulties in our lives. He reminded his listeners that when we face God-sized problems only God can fix them. And all we can do is remain faithful to God.

This doesn’t guarantee that the problems will magically go away. But as we focus on God (our refuge in the midst of the difficulties) it changes us to be able to thrive despite them.

The preacher used problems facing him and his family throughout the past few months as an example. And trust me, it was a long list. By the time he was done listing them all out, I felt like he was someone who could empathize with my own giant list.

I cried. And agreed that going to God as our refuge doesn’t mean that the problems instantly—or shortly thereafter—go away. Our focus being set on God while remaining in the midst of the Depths of Darkness is part of the point of the book I wrote (Hydroponic Spirituality).

As far as my own problems, which include the worsening chronic pain in my body as well as a dire medical circumstance for my dad, I felt like this preacher’s sermon was a word from God directly for me. To hold on to God while he deals with the God-sized problems.

But then, a few days passed. And I had a mental and emotional breakdown.

I lost that right perspective again. The problems hadn’t gone away. And some new ones piled on top, which broke me. Nothing seemed to be working. In my thrashing about because of the difficulties, I once again lost sight of the God who should be my refuge.

It’s far too easy for us to let the difficulties of life twist us away from our only refuge. Especially when all we want is for the problems to go away. But that doesn’t free us to just wallow in our suffering. In every moment of our lives as followers of Jesus, we are to cling to our God. Find our refuge in him. And let him deal with the God-sized problems, even when it seems like he’s taking his time to deal with them.

And so once again I’m going to add my voice to all who remind us that finding our refuge in God doesn’t guarantee a problem-free life. And I pray that this time it sticks (for both me and you), even though I’m sure the reminder will be needed again. And again. And again.

This understanding of God’s place as refuge isn’t unique to me, or the preacher mentioned earlier. Many authors in the bible remind us to seek refuge in God, while the storms continue to rage and beat outside the realm of his protection.

One such word can be found in Psalm 31.

While I’m not going to explain the poem line by line, go read the psalm and notice that nowhere in those verses does David make it sound like the problems of life are instantly fixed once he makes God his refuge. As a matter of fact, while a few small victories and deliverances are mentioned, they are quickly replaced with more and new troubles. The deliverance from the net of his enemies in verse 4 and his being set on a broad place in verse 8 are followed by a continued need to hold on to God. More difficulties take the place of the earlier ones.

Yet still, beyond the increasing and continual troubles, the Psalmist writes in verses 14-16 that he will still trust in the Lord. Call him his God. David continues to find his refuge in God as he calls upon his Lord to deliver him from his enemies and let the face of God shine goodness on him. The continual troubles don’t make David flee from trust and faith in God. No, they strengthen his resolve to find refuge in God all the more.

The psalm’s final four verses showcase this all the more. There the psalmist witnesses the covenant love of God even while in a besieged city. Surrounded by enemies with no escape to be found, God’s steadfast love is still present. And even though David had doubts, crying out that God had cut him off from his sight, God still heard his pleas.

David calls for us—God’s holy ones—to love the Lord who preserves us despite the troubles of this life. And he reminds all who wait on the Lord to be strong and let our hearts take courage.

Keep on.

Continue to hold onto our refuge, keep God in our sights, even as the difficulties of life continue to rage around us.

It’s often difficult to live out the things you know to be true of God and his work in our lives. But maybe if we can continue to be reminded—and remind others—of this truth, we will be changed to live in the midst of it all.

We can endure and thrive as we keep on in the refuge of God.