Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to You for refuge. I said to the Lord, “ You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from You.”
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For You will not leave my soul among the dead or allow Your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever. (Psalm 16:1-2, 9-11)
Our reactions and responses are shaped by our experiences and environment. I was raised primarily in the midwestern state of Illinois. From late Spring until early Fall, we lived under the constant threat of tornadoes. As children we had frequent drills, communities had early warning systems in place, and it was not unusual for families to have tornado shelters on their property or built into the basement of their homes. It was just a fact with which we lived. Because of the flat terrain it was often possible to see a tornado in the distance as it performed its destructive dance. I remember one church service that was interrupted by tornado sirens and standing outside with the men of the church to pray and watch the funnel cloud zigzag through a neighboring corn field. After the storm lifted, we all went back inside as though nothing had happened.
For whatever reason, I have never been afraid of tornadoes. Maybe it’s just foolhardiness, but I have always felt like if the storm comes all you can do is duck & cover and hope for the best. Fearing the storm does nothing to change its course. But the main reason that I do not fear tornadoes, or whatever other circumstance that life may throw my way, is that I have always identified with the feelings expressed by David in Psalm 16. I have always felt that I could run to God in times of trouble and He would come through for me. So far, God has an outstanding track record and for that I am grateful!
Yet, as I meditate on the fact that God is my refuge, I am reminded of the refugees that are at the center of the current political controversy. I cannot imagine what it must be like for your world to be so chaotic that you actually have to fear for the safety of your loved ones. I cannot fathom living in a country torn apart by violence, and where your well-being relies on the caprice of your government and neighbors. When I see some of the stories that come out of these situations, my heart absolutely breaks for those unfortunate enough to be in the middle of them.
However, it is not enough to be heartbroken for the suffering of others. If I am to be a man of faith, I must allow my heartbreak to stir me to action. I am still figuring out what that means for me. I am not in a situation where I can do anything to stop the violence on the other side of the world, and circumstance has not brought any refugees into my sphere of influence. So what can I do in the face of suffering of this magnitude? I’m not sure, but as I grapple with this question I will start as I always do…on my knees before the Refuge that has brought me through so much.
Prayer: Father, thank you for being my source of refuge and strength. There are many times I had no one else to turn to but You, and You have always been faithful to me. Lord, our nation is struggling to navigate our way through this refugee crisis. I pray that You will give wisdom and direction to those who hold the reigns of power and can help steer us to a solution. I pray for the workers who are on the front lines, working to alleviate the suffering. Finally, I pray on behalf of all the refugee families. Let your Holy Spirit be present to comfort them and give them the strength to continue. Allow this situation to draw them closer to You. We may not always understand the “why” of every situation, but we can rest in the sure knowledge of your Grace and Mercy. Amen