Where do you run when you are frightened, angry, lonely, disappointed, or discouraged? Do you flee to a best friend or loved one for strength and support. Or maybe you run to social media surfing, to online shopping, exercise, substances (chocolate, alcohol, etc.) or other activities for a quick “fix.” When life seems to be unraveling and spiraling out of control, do you cling more tightly to things within your control and have less patience and grace for those around you? What do you do to bolster your defenses against this chaotic world that seems to be against you at every turn?
I have been known to run to many different things and people when fighting for control in my circumstances that are less than desirable and my soul is downcast or in distress. Sometimes, I even run to good things. However, the only place I find complete rest is in the safety of the Lord who is my refuge and my strong tower.
This month we will focus on various characteristics of God or names that are attributed to God and Christ. Many names have been ascribed to God and Jesus, and books and Bible studies are available if you desire to go deeper (a few listed at the end). This week I am focusing on God as a refuge and fortress. This is a characteristic of the Lord I need and know many of my dear friends need reminders of at this present time.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”
~Proverbs 18:10 (ESV)
The winter months often bring dreary weather and illness, the monotony can cause our hearts to despair. I know I need to constantly remind myself that God is my refuge and my fortress. He is the one who provides complete safety from the storms in life and offers a rest like no one or nothing else can offer. Even this week I was overcome with the pang of loneliness for connection with local women friends. Most people reading this would be surprised by this admission, as my life is full with children, a wonderful husband, and deep friendships elsewhere around the country. My life certainly doesn’t appear “lonely.” But here I am. I am lonely for local women friends, even despairing and longing for these connections just a few days ago. While reflecting on God’s promise to be with me, to console me, to be the safe place for my tears and longings, to be my strength when I am weary of being the one to frequently initiate. He gives this gentle reminder – He is enough. He is the best friend whom I met when I first came to know Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior as a lonely girl on a freshman Young Life retreat. He is the same God today. He is my refuge and fortress.
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” (vv. 2-4)
“In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I called. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears.” (v. 7)
“This God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? 33 This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless.” (vv. 31-33)
~2 Samuel 22:2-4, 7, 31-33 ESV
To summarize David’s words from 2 Samuel 22, we find these reassuring thoughts:
- You are not the first person to endure suffering
- You are not alone in your suffering
- God invites us to cry out to Him with our emotions, and dialogue with Him during our suffering
- God is a Refuge & Fortress. He will deliver you from your suffering. It may not be on your time table or in the way you desire, but God is ready for you to cry out to Him.
Countless references in the Old Testament highlight God as our strong tower, a mighty fortress, and a refuge in the storm. However, we must not forget Jesus who is our ultimate deliverer and refuge from the storm. Remember the disciples and their great distress during the sudden storm that enveloped them while Jesus was asleep in the boat. They woke Jesus up, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to die!” Jesus woke up and “rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they (the waves) ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” Jesus is the ultimate refuge and fortress who came to rescue us and deliver us from sin and death. (Read this account in Luke 8:22-25.)
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah … “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah” ~Psalm 46:1-3, 10-11 ESV
We will encounter storms in this life. You may even be in the middle on one currently, being tossed about by circumstances outside your control. Storms can rattle our faith, cause our feet to stumble, tempt us to feel alone in the raging waves of emotions, and to doubt God sees or hears us when we cry out to Him.
So how can knowing that God is our refuge, our fortress, and our rescuer from the storm encourage a weary heart today? I believe this knowledge can make all the difference in how we endure through the storm. Here are a few practical things to do while in the midst of a trial or difficult season.
- Remember God is true. He is who He says He is and His word proves it time and time again.
- Know you are not alone in your storm. God is with you.
- Read God’s word to remind your heart that He is your refuge, your strength, and your help in the storm.
- Cry out to God for help. The Psalms are a wonderful way to do this.
- Seek out help from another believer, a pastor, or a Christian counselor. Moses, David, Jesus, and Paul all looked to friends for help and to encourage them in their time of need.
- Listen to Worship music or hymns to remind you of the Lord. “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits.” ~Martin Luther (Martin Luther was also a musician & his most famous hymn is “A mighty Fortress is our God” based on Psalm 46).
Please enjoy the scriptures & songs selected on God as our refuge and fortress this week. We challenge you to find others as these only scratch the surface.
Refuge & Fortress Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 33:26-29; 2 Samuel 22:1-51; Psalm 18; 34:8, 17-18; 46; 62; 71:1-8; 73:28; 91; 118:5-9; Proverbs 18:10; Isaiah 25:1-5; Joel 3:16; Matthew 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-25
Oceans (Where Feet may Fail) by Hillsong United: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFRRJ5nVhsY#action=share
A Mighty Fortress is our God by Martin Luther, sung by Michael W Smith: https://youtu.be/N8M78bLEHow
Blessed be the Name by Kim Hill: https://youtu.be/1GEAlBN7uxg
A few select references for Attributes/Names of God and Christ:
- God’s Names by Sally Michael. (2011) Good resource for children.
- Attributes of God by She Reads Truth – Current (Feb 2019) reading plan accessible online daily for free at: https://shereadstruth.com/
- Names of God by She Reads Truth
- The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus by Nancy Leigh DeMoss & Timothy Botts
- Lord, I Want to Know You: A Devotional Study on the Names of God by Kay Arthur (2000)
- God: Discover His Character by Bill Bright (2002)