Humanity longs for comfort, security, and safety. We have the need to find something or someone to take refuge in but we often look for that refuge in the wrong places.
Last week I began my at least annual trek through the Psalms. There is a theme that has stood out to me; the theme of refuge. The Psalmist, on several occasions, says, "In the LORD I take refuge" (Psalm 11:1; 16:1). As I've been reading, I've been forced to stop and ask whether or not my refuge is the LORD?
Refuge In The Wrong Places
We aren't naturally inclined to take refuge in the Lord. We're prone to take refuge in our current circumstances. We might attempt to take refuge in relationships, job security, material prosperity, or success of our children. But all these things are false refuges. They simply don't provide the covering that we need–the covering that we can really only get from God.
These things, or refuges, are all bad refuges because they are imperfect. They're like a house with a crumbly foundation. When you take refuge in a relationship, you really only feel secure when things are going well. Your spouse might provide a good refuge for a while, but eventually he or she will have their shakiness revealed. Suddenly they aren't as strong as you need them to be. Your refuge might be in your secure job. But a jolt in the economy can take that away in an instant. You might find great comfort in your material possessions, but you very quickly realize that all of those things are breaking down very quickly. Furthermore, you realize that once you finally have whatever it is you "must have," you almost immediately become dissatisfied and must have whatever has most recently become better.
On and on we could go.
Refuge In The Lord
The God of the bible is a different refuge entirely.
When you meditate through the writings of the Psalmist, you realize that his circumstances were often very dire. Enemies were after him. His king (before he was king himself) wanted to kill him. His own son wanted his throne. Etc. But over and over he writes in a manner that, though often despairing at first sight, often turns into a testimony of praise to God. Repeatedly the Psalmist finds himself crying out to God because of the suffering he is going through.
But astonishingly, we also see him giving his praise to God. Why?
I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken... You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fulness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. - Psalm 16:8, 11
The Psalmist could still praise the Lord because it was the Lord who he took refuge in. You see, when our eyes are set on finding refuge in things that aren't meant to be taken refuge in, our eyes are taken off the Lord. This makes it easy for us to blame God when we perceive things as going wrong. But, when our eyes are continually on the Lord, when we see him as always before us and always at our right hand, we will begin to become overwhelmed with joy.
The Lord is a refuge who will not fail.
Jesus experienced this for us. The night before he was headed to the cross, Jesus was in the garden praying. His prayers were so intense in this moment that he was sweating drops of blood. Jesus was overwhelmed with what was before him. But he prays a remarkable prayer. "Father, if you will, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done." How could he do this? Just as the Psalmist, Jesus's refuge was in the Lord. Only Jesus is the better Psalmist because he took refuge perfectly in his Father.
Jesus would of course go on to die on that cross. But he would also rise from the dead! This victory over death gives us great confidence. Jesus not only suffered for us, but he took complete and perfect refuge in God for us too. Now, because of Jesus, our eternity is secure. There is nothing that can take us from God's hand. He is our refuge.