Our Refuge In Times Of Trouble
By Rich Carmicheal
While working on last month’s issue on the theme of faith, we sensed the Lord leading us to devote this issue to the same theme, but with a special focus on the importance of faith in the midst of troubles and trials. If you are in such a time, we hope and pray the Lord works though this issue to encourage you and to strengthen your faith in Him.
The psalmist shares the glorious truth that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1). And because of this, “we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling” (vv. 2-3). In other words, nothing will be too much for us as long as our God is with us! Even if we walk through the deepest, darkest valley, even through the valley of the shadow of death, we need fear no evil, for God is with us, and His rod and staff comfort us (Psa. 23:4).
The main thing in difficult times (and all times!) is to draw all the nearer to the Lord, and to know Him and trust Him all the more. In fact, one of the blessings of being burdened beyond measure and above strength, even to the point of despair, is that as we come to end of ourselves and our own resources, we are in a better position to discover more about the Person and power of our God, and about His ability and faithfulness to deliver us (2 Cor. 1:8-10). As Hudson Taylor noted, God often places “His people into difficulties on purpose that they may come to know Him as they could not otherwise do.” Therefore, “it doesn’t matter, really, how great the pressure is, it only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord – then, the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to His breast.”
Benefits of Drawing Near
So “let us draw near [to Him] with a true heart in full assurance of faith…. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:22-23). As we set our eyes and hearts upon the Lord and draw near to Him through worship, through prayer and through His Word, we discover all the more that He is the source of life, peace, strength, joy, encouragement and hope, and that He and His grace are all-sufficient!
In his book Fresh Faith, Jim Cymbala points out that “faith is especially nurtured when we just wait in God’s presence, taking the time to love Him and listen for His voice. Strength to keep believing often flows into us as we simply worship the Lord. The promises of Scripture become wonderfully alive as the Spirit applies them to our hearts.” Faith begins to spring anew as people wait “on the One who can so easily turn everything around in life.”
Consider the Prophet Jeremiah’s experience. In the midst of great affliction and lamentation, when his strength and hope had perished, he rekindled hope by turning his attention to the Lord: “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him” (Lam. 3:21-25).
A key issue for us, then, in times of trial is whether or not we will turn our full attention to the Lord, wait in His presence and trust Him and His promises to us in His Word. Will we draw near to Him, and as David, say, “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand…”? (Psa. 31:14-15). Will we trust Him to work good through whatever trials we are facing, and to deliver us in due course? (Rom. 8:28; Psa. 91:15). Will we in faith cast all our cares upon Him, knowing that He cares for us? (1 Pet. 5:7). Will we cast our burden upon Him, trusting Him to sustain us? (Psa. 55:22). Will we be anxious for nothing, but through prayer turn everything over to Him? (Phil. 4:6). Will we trust Him with all of our heart, and lean not on our own understanding? (Prov. 3:5). Will we acknowledge Him in all our ways, and trust Him to direct our paths? (v. 6). The Lord is faithful and we can absolutely depend upon Him to fulfill His promises toward us as we trust Him. Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you! (Jas. 4:8).
“The Lord…will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You” (Psa. 9:9-10).