“I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust” (Psalm 91:2 NKJV)
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you …” (Deuteronomy 33:27 NKJV).
Have you ever gone through, or are you currently going through, a crisis or stressful situation and found yourself helpless and not knowing what to do but to call on the Lord? If you have been facing problems and challenges with your health, finances, a relationship with someone you love or loved, relatives, friends, job, or other circumstances, and turned to seeking comfort and relief by watching TV endlessly, spending a lot of time on social media, YouTube, texting, eating junk food, shopping, drinking alcohol, or other worldly outlet, my friend you are seeking shelter in a false refuge.
Several times in the Bible, we are encouraged to take refuge in God. What does this mean? The online dictionary defines a refuge as “a place of shelter, protection from danger or trouble, and safety; anything to which one has resource of aid, relief, or escape”. In this brief message, we want to encourage you to find your safety, relief, and place of escape in the Lord – He alone is “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). We also want to reiterate that, as Christians, God is able to take care of us and supply all our needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
Drawing Strength from God
Every single day, Christians are faced with the temptation to focus on worldly things or take refuge in them, instead of first seeking the Lord Jesus as the Bible encourages us (Matthew 6:33). This temptation often occurs when one decides to seek the Lord in prayer, worship, or Bible reading, which help us to draw strength from God (Psalm 84:1-12). For example, have you had an experience when you were planning to seek the Lord and suddenly you felt like sleeping, eating, or watching an interesting program on TV or YouTube? Also, when one feels offended, stressed out, angry, down, in despair, scared, or frustrated, it may seem like a good idea to call someone to vent, check out the latest world news, watch more TV, eat unhealthy food, go shopping, read a secular book, etc. In those times, while it may seem comforting to seek those things, they do not really solve the problem at hand, help us gain godly understanding, or help us in determining a peaceful solution. As a matter of fact, this is leaning on the arm of the flesh, and it only weighs us further down and makes us feel dry and depleted (Jeremiah 17:5-8). Focusing on such worldly things or seeking people for answers first instead of seeking the Lord first can also lead to idolatry, which is sin. As many of you already know, the internet, TV, and social media are not only false refuges, but they can also be idols and they have many pitfalls and diversions to draw you further away from God.
At such times when we feel helpless and hopeless, we need to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ more than ever (Proverbs 3:5-6). The Bible says: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10 NKJV ). The Bible is very clear that “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” (Psalm 18:30 NJKV). Even when in dire distress or oppression “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9 NKJV). Furthermore, The Lord is a sure refuge when we are poor (Psalm 14:6), feel weak (Psalm 28:8), under attack (Psalm 31:2; 91:2; 94:22), despised (Psalm 71:7), afflicted (Jeremiah 16:19), in times of calamity (Psalm 57:1), or ultimately even when facing death (Psalm 18:1-6).
Sometimes, making the choice on where to go and find peace seems challenging. Some may choose to walk or run many miles, or even move far away altogether, but as we choose to simply go to God, we choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19). Additionally, as we draw near to God by seeking Him, He protects us (Proverbs 30:5; Isaiah 14:32), shields us (Psalm 18:30), keeps us safe (Psalm 16:1), helps us overcome our trials (Isaiah 25:4), cares for us (Nahum 1:7), blesses us (Psalm 2:12; 34:8), makes us glad and full of joy (Psalm 5:11), saves us from our enemies (Psalm 17:7), and most kindly keeps us from being condemned (Psalm 34:22). The Lord helps us to be grateful, less irritable, humble, having soft hearts, easily forgiving others, and serving Him. The Lord is truly our true peace! (Ephesians 2:14).
In the Bible, we find several examples of people who sought refuge in the Lord:
- King David often poured out His complaints as He cried out to the Lord for help in times of trouble (Psalm 7:1; 11:1). Over 40 times in the Book of Psalms alone, King David affirms the Lord as His refuge, and he encourages us to do the same:
“Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8 NKJV).
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalms 18:2 NKJV).
- When King Hezekiah was in trouble, having been surrounded by an enemy who was too strong for him and bent on utterly obliterating his kingdom, he took refuge in the Lord; he“…went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord…” (2 Kings 19:14-19).
- Likewise, when King Jehoshaphat was surrounded by a vast army, instead of sending urgent messages to friendly neighbors for help, he sought refuge in the Lord. The king “set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. ” (2 Chronicles 20:4 NKJV).
- When Daniel learned of the conspiracy against him, and that a decree had been published forbidding anyone from worshiping God, he did not use his influence to appeal to the king. Instead, he sought an audience with the King of Kings, and so “he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Daniel 6:10).
- The Lord Jesus Himself is our example; when He was in deep distress on the impending crucifixion and death, He took refuge in God the Father (Matthew 26:36-39).
The Bible declares that God is not impressed in man’s physical strength, fighting prowess or power of any kind. Instead, He delights in those who fear Him and put their hope in His unfailing love (Psalm 147:10-11). The Lord is truly our strength, shield, refuge, fortress, and very present help in distress or trouble (Psalm 28:7; 46:1; Jeremiah 16:19).
Staying the Course toward Heaven
The Lord Jesus urged us to “enter through the narrow gate” because “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14 NIV). When going through trials, many God-fearing Christians often search for answers on the Internet, social media, and other worldly channels. While searching for answers is good, taking refuge in these man-made channels has many traps and temptations to steer you off course, since gossip and other worldly “news” that appeal to the flesh and defiles one’s spirit are only a click away. Some other consequences of seeking false refuge are that you end up wasting time that you will never get back, you miss great opportunities and breakthroughs, and fall behind on things, goals, and tasks you set out to do. This also may yield less joy! With wickedness, false prophets, and prophecies lurking everywhere; we should heed the Bible’s warning that the righteous who give way to the wicked are like a polluted well or muddied spring (Proverbs 25:26). Therefore, it is important to be discerning and careful not to let the enemy of your soul, Satan, lead you into seeking or watching demonic, false, idolatrous, and worldly pleasures that appeal to the flesh and contaminate or defile the spirit (James 1:27; 2 Corinthians 7:1).
We are seeing great deception ever increasing in the church (Matthew 24:5, 11), intense earthquakes, famines and pestilences occurring in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven (Luke 21:10), wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6), nations rising against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms (Matthew 24:7), increase in wickedness and the love of many growing cold (Matthew 24:12; 2 Timothy 3:1-5), Christians being persecuted (Luke 21:12) and hated for telling the truth (Luke 21:17), signs in the sun, moon, and stars; nations worried about the roaring and tossing of the sea (Luke 21:25), and increasingly seeing these signs (birth pangs). These are sure warning signs that we are living in perilous times, and we should take refuge in the Lord and let His words abide in us, that we may be refined and prepared to be among those who are able to stand before Him, redeemed (Luke 21:27-28, 36; John 15:5-8).
As we yield to the Lord’s ways, He is faithful to cleanse us, purify us from worldliness, and refine us until He comes at the appointed time (Daniel 11:35; 12:10). Therefore, let us, like King David, “long to dwell in [God’s] tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of [His] wings” (Psalm 61:4 NIV) and continue seeking the Lord!
If you would like to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we invite you to start with this Prayer of Salvation. For any questions or comments about this article or our ministry, please feel free contact us.
God’s Peace be with you as you take refuge in Him!
Abes and Janet.