Mark Affleck

Where is your Refuge?

September 3, 2016
Spiritual Growth

Where do you go when the storms of life hit?
Do you escape to a “warm and safe” bunker?
Do you deny reality and hope the storm passes?
Or do you go on a hunt for any diversion you can find—even if it’s unhealthy?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, welcome to my club because I’ve tried them all!
Thankfully I’ve learned to turn toward God when the storms of life hit because of course our perspective differs from the Lord’s divine perspective as much as day differs from night. Our fallible perspective, especially at the beginning of a life storm, is often laced with anger in the midst of pain. The last thing we want to do is learn from our difficulties and understand what God says about our circumstances.
And when others urge us to seek God to learn from our trials, our reaction is to wonder if they are kidding. We think: “Hey, don’t they know what we are going through?
Sound familiar?
The inescapable, immutable truth is that periodic darkness is part of the Christian life. Yep, problems, tests, tragedies, trials, and tribulation are part of our walk with God. The apostle Peter warned us that unexpected crises are like the storms of life. He told us:
“…do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13
Rejoicing in our sufferings goes against our nature to be sure, but God wants us to nonetheless give our troubles to him—all of them, large and small. Sounds reasonable, right? Of course, but even though it seems crazy we can be afraid to commit our problems to God. In that mode we think God will “think badly” of us, as though he didn’t know of the problems beforehand.
The good news is that God does not see troubles as we do. For us, trouble represents pain, stress, and embarrassment that showcases for everyone to see what we consider our “spiritual shallowness.” Despite that irrational thinking, God sees all of it as an opportunity for spiritual growth that is passing us by.
He wants to use our suffering as a way to teach us heavenly lessons and build us up. He wants to help us survive the storms of life so we will see he was present with us all along, and that he fulfilled his promises. He wants us to learn that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
The Lord wants us to give all our troubles to him, just as David did when he challenged the Philistine giant Goliath. He faced so much and yet he trusted and obeyed God.
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands . . . This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”  1 Samuel 17:45-46

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