A severe rainstorm came through our area a few weeks ago. I was home looking out the living room window at the rain and it was so heavy I could hardly see the neighbor’s house across the street. I had closed all the windows and could hear the rain beat against the roof. I stood there thinking to myself, “I’m glad I have a weather-proof house.” We had weathered other storms before, but that night I felt calm and secure even as the rain poured down. As I stood there, the idea of God as a roof, a covering, came to mind. The psalms are full of references to God as a shield or refuge – it’s the same idea. Here are a few of them.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. (Psalm 91:1-4)
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! (Psalm 57:1-3)
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love. (Psalm 59:16-17)
There is a lot of comfort and security expressed in those verses. It’s no secret that life can bang us around. Stuff happens. Sometimes really terrible stuff. What I find particularly encouraging is that the Bible doesn’t tell us that this stuff won’t happen to us, that Christians are immune from storms, but that when the storms come we have a place to run for cover. We are not left alone, exposed to the “elements.”
I think taking refuge in God can mean looking at the “bigger” picture. Suffering financial or physical or relational loss doesn’t mean He’s abandoned us. I think it means believing – sometimes against the evidence – that He still “fulfills his purpose for me.” That means my life has a purpose! I think it means that I can trust that the storms will pass. It means that He is still God and in control and good. It’s that thread we hold on to that gives us hope to carry on. In the midst of the storms, we look to see His steadfast love expressed somehow to us. It’s there, because He promised it would be there.
Saying, “God is my umbrella under which I take cover” is not as poetic as saying “You are my refuge and my fortress,” but think about it for a moment. When we can carry our umbrellas everywhere we go, we are ready to weather a storm whenever it comes up. And when the storms come, our umbrella provides protection and covering. Can we not see God in a similar way – no disrespect intended here. But if would carry with us this idea that God is always with us, always available to run to, always a refuge and a shield, I think we would embrace His faithfulness to see us through life’s storms. I’m not saying it’s easy. I am saying it’s true.