I don't know about you, but I've been holding my breath for days as we've watched Hurricane Irma pummel across Florida, affecting many family members and close friends. This morning I learned that our loved ones are unharmed, and their property has minimal damage, but they are still waiting for power.
But before that, there were, and still are, the wildfires in the northwest to be concerned about. And we can't forget about those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Rebuilding after fires and hurricanes will be tough work, and for a very long time.
And now we find ourselves on September 11, the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. that plunged our nation into more than a decade of war and deployments. When we consider all of these events in such quick succession, it's easy to be overwhelmed, isn't it?
The word "refuge" has been on my heart lately, for a few reasons. First, I've been editing the galleys for my next novel, A Refuge Assured. But the concept of refuge has been a very real one as we've had natural disasters displace so many Americans lately. There are almost one hundred references to "refuge" in the Bible, but I want to share just one of them with you today.
Psalm 73:28. "But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds."
Normally we think of refuge as a physical location of safety. A haven, where nothing can harm the one who shelters there. The verse above reveals more layers of meaning to the word:
1) To be near God is to make Him our refuge. No matter where we are, whether we are in harm's way or time zones away from physical danger, we can dwell in the Lord by trusting His promises.
2) Our refuge is not just the Lord, but the Sovereign Lord. A turn in the hurricane's path may take the Weather Channel by surprise. A terrorist attack may catch us unaware. But God is still on His throne, and nothing surprises Him. He is never disoriented and at a loss as to how best to care for His beloved. He is sovereign.
3) There is a natural connection between taking refuge in God, and telling of all His deeds. On 9-11, we tell stories of where we were on this day in 2001, don't we? We remember the fallen. We thank those who served on that dreadful day and who continue to serve us. We #NeverForget because that day was so significant for us as a nation, and for many of us, it changed us personally, too. (I share my story here.) In the same way, reminding ourselves and each other of how the Lord has already provided for us in the past reminds us that He has proven faithful. He has been our refuge in the past, and He won't stop caring for us now.
Please understand that I don't mean to minimize any of the hardships you might be experiencing. Far from it. I'm praying for your physical needs, whether it's related to a recent disaster, or it's a chronic illness, or a military deployment, or the loss of a loved one. I'm also praying that in the midst of it all, you will be near God, as the psalmist wrote. That His presence will wrap around you, whatever your circumstances may be. I pray His peace and comfort will be made known to you, surpassing all understanding.