Legend has it that early American Indians had a unique way of training young boys to become Indian braves.
On the night of a boy’s thirteenth birthday, after learning hunting, scouting, and fishing skills, he was put to one final test. He was placed in a thick forest to spend the entire night alone.
Up until then, he had never been away from his family and the tribe. But on this night, he was blindfolded and taken several miles away. When he took off the blindfold, he was in the middle of a thick woods and he was scared to death!
Every time a twig snapped, he would think that a wild animal was getting ready to pounce. After what seemed like an eternity, and the sun began to rise the next morning; The boy looked around and saw flowers, trees, and a path.
And then, to his complete amazement, he saw the figure of a man standing just a few feet away, armed with a bow and arrow. It was his father. And he had been there all night long.
The Bible teaches that God is like boy’s Father. He is our protector. Defender. Guardian. Refuge, the word of the week.
With the doom of Jerusalem pending, Jeremiah proclaimed, “O Lord, my strength and my fortress, My refuge in the day of affliction” (Jer 16:19)
A refuge is a place of shelter from danger. A place to flee for safety. It denotes a place one flees to such as a fortress, a high tower, or a lofty wall.
Where do you turn in times of trouble? Consider four ways that God can be your refuge during suffering, adversity and trouble.
(1) Live in God’s Presence. James said, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” Jesus promised “I am with you always even to the end of the world. (Mt 28:29).
When we suffer adversity, we can know that we are in the presence of God. What a great encouragement, comfort and consolation.
One man said, where was God when my son died?” The answer is: The same place he was when His son died. If you feel forsaken, Jesus knows how you feel. God is not a spectator of our pain, we are in his presence.
(2) Learn from God’s Promises. The Psalmist affirmed that God would be with us. That he is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.” God promises help. Comfort. Hope. He says, “I care. And I will care for you.” (I Pet. 5:7). He feels our pain. And will supply our every need.
(3) Lean on God’s Power When Sennacherib, king of Assyria invaded Judah, the king stood up and said. “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chron 32:7-8)
Finite strength is undependable and expendable, but God’s infinite power is sufficient for every need. Indeed we are “kept by the power of God” (1 Pet 1:5)
(4) Look For God’s Purpose God’s purpose is not to make you miserable. Paul said to “rejoice in the Lord” God does not send pain, problems and pressures. God is the giver of good gifts. (Jas. 1:18)
Why does trouble come? Maybe it is because of the evil of other people. Sometimes it is the result of living in a natural world that is filled with sin, suffering and separation. It could be through our own poor choice (Gal. 6:7-8). Or maybe the Devil is trying to trap us (1 Pet. 5:8)
So what is God’s Purpose for me as I experience life’s problems? To walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7) To use adversity to make me stronger (Jas 1:2-3) To focus on God’s eternal plan in Jesus. (Eph. 3:11) To claim victory through His love, grace and mercy. (Rom 8:30-31)
When we suffer adversity in this life. When we experience trials. When we feel all alone. Afraid. Anxious. Troubled. There is help and hope. There is God. He is watching over us.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman