Daily news is troublesome. Illness, accidents, wars, unrest, mass murders, fires, floods, and elections are stressful. Closer to home, several friends are in their last days and weeks as cancer is defeating them. One of my cousins died yesterday from this rampant disease. Our city’s crime rate is higher this year than last year. The weather is incredible, yet hailstorms pop up and are ruining entire crops that had been lush and beautiful. Rarely do I have horrible dreams but last night I dreamt that two of my children were in a burning house. Before that, I took a picture of myself and felt dismay that I am aging (duh).
As the troubles pile up, I feel like hiding. Today’s Scripture offers a place of refuge . . .
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
My thoughts go to several Old Testament promises that offer the same refuge:
“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah” (Psalm 32:7)“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.” (Psalm 119:114)“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psalm 62:8)
As Chambers says, God does not promise to remove trouble from me, but He will deliver me in it. That is, when life piles up, God will equip me, stay by me, comfort me, supply whatever I need in that situation to take me through the challenges by faith. Because of Him, I am usually wiser and stronger when the trouble is over than when it started.
This hiding place is for those things that are totally outside of my ability or opportunity to do anything about. I cannot change world events. I cannot cure cancer. I’ve no control over the weather, or the passing of time, or the events in the lives of my kids. I might be able to pull them out of the burning building (I did in my dream), but most of what goes on can only be observed and experienced, not changed.
Jesus said that in this world I would have tribulation. That word means “an oppressive state of physical, mental, social, or economic adversity.” It is not restricted to outside events, yet it can mean the way that I feel about those events. This is where the refuge, hiding place comes in. Abiding in Christ and trusting Him is my deliverance. He declares that He is sovereign over all. Nothing happens as a surprise to God. Further, He can even fit the horrible things that happen into His plan, working them out to be part of what He intends in this world. That alone gives me a great deal of comfort. He has overcome this world.
As for the aging bit, the older I get, the closer I am to being with Jesus. From that perspective, anticipation and joy slide into my heart.
From the largest and most dismaying things out there to the less significant yet still dismaying stuff that goes on in my personal life, Jesus is the overcomer. Abiding in Him gives me a victory too. Besides being my hiding place here and now, when He returns all those trials will be over and our victory will be complete.