Finding REFUGE in the Lord
by Sheila Alewine – Bible Study Tools
The Hebrew word for refuge is chacah and means “to flee for protection, to confide in, to put one’s trust in.” The dictionary defines a refuge as a shelter or protection from danger, trouble, or to take refuge from a storm. It’s a place of safety, or anything to which one has recourse for aid, relief, or escape.
Every person who has ever lived has experienced troubles and tribulations at some level. Some people are like Job; if something bad is going to happen, it’s probably going to happen to you! For others, life seems to be kinder and brings less tribulation. But if we all took the time to tell our stories, we’d find we have a lot in common. As Job said, “Man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward!” (Job 5:7).DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
How Can We Experience God as Our Refuge and Strength in Times of Trouble?
Troubles come in all shapes and sizes. The Hebrew word is ??râ, meaning distress, troubles, straits, adversity, affliction, anguish, tribulation.
God is a Spirit. We can’t run into God’s physical presence and be shielded from the things that trouble us in this life. The life of faith is a spirit-life, but as human beings, we experience very real, tangible, physical troubles, and we need more than emotional comfort to see us through.
While there have been many times when I experienced the presence of God’s Spirit in a time of worship or prayer, God generally speaks to me through my mind, as I read His Word or when contemplating or meditating on the things of God. We cannot look for emotional experiences as the measure of God being our refuge. He is more than a “feeling.” He is a living God, who is active in our lives, and He wants us to find refuge in something more lasting than a good emotional experience.
God is Whom to Confide:
The first step of finding refuge is to go to God the Father in prayer. We must cry out to Him, confiding our fears, our hopes, our feelings of anxiety, our confusion, and our lack of ability to fix things. For God to be a true refuge, we have to be honest with Him. Prayer isn’t how God learns what we are thinking…He already knows before we can articulate it. Psalm 139:4 says “Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it all.” Prayer is how God reveals to us what is in our hearts. When we talk to Him in honest conversation, we expose what we’re really thinking, what we might hide from the rest of the world.
Prayer is how we draw near into the presence of God. By faith, we believe He hears our prayers. Like a child unburdening herself to her loving parent, we are able to let go of trying to figure out how to solve our troubles, and trust that God will intervene in His time. God is a Person, and He tells us to “cast all our anxieties (burdens) on Him, because He cares for us” (1 Peter 5:7).
God’s Word is a Place of Protection:
A common aspect of troubles is that we need wisdom to make decisions. We need to know what to do. God’s Word is a place of safety and protection that provides answers to every problem, every fear, every anxious thought. Sometimes we find ourselves in trouble of our own making. We’ve made decisions that, instead of leading to fulfillment and happiness, have only caused us pain. Perhaps it was foolishly running ahead of God instead of waiting on Him to provide. Perhaps it is a sin issue; we chose to disobey God’s clear commands in Scripture and now we are reaping the harvest of what we’ve sown.
God’s Word is literally the place we must run to. We must learn to trust that doing what God says is always best, even when the world or culture says it’s foolish. For example, a young couple decides that it’s more financially prudent to live together instead of getting married. The laws of the land tell them that’s what they should do, but God’s Word sets out a different path – the path of honoring God in marriage. The more difficult choice is to obey God’s Word, but it is the place of protection and safety. God becomes our refuge when we trust His Word more than we trust the culture, or even (and especially) our own feelings.
The world tells you to “listen to your heart,” but God says your heart will deceive you. God’s Word is the only place we find security and protection because it is the only source of truth. Who is the Word of God? It is Jesus – God’s perfect Son, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). When we have fully committed our lives to obeying Jesus, we have found the place of refuge and safety, the place where we are protected from all the ways the enemy might try to harm us.
God’s Spirit Provides the Power:
While we can’t physically run into God’s presence, God has provided a way that He is physically with us, through the indwelling Spirit of God, who comes to live in every true Christ-follower at the moment of salvation. As we learn to confide in the Father and commit to obey the Word of God (Jesus), we are empowered (strengthened) by the Spirit of God.