Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Vision (4/18/13): God is our Refuge and Strength


 
 
As I sat down to write a pastoral note for this week’s Vision, I thought of all the unsettling things that have happened over the last seven days, with the bombings in Boston and now the tremendous explosion in West, Texas.  I debated whether or not to address the subject.  On the con side was the fact that I already had some quotations on the life of Jesus I was planning to share.  More importantly I began to wonder how many other ministers would attempt to write something about these events in their pastoral epistles this week and also about how hard it is to write about such things without sounding unoriginal, trite, or clichéd.

Then, I remembered our Lord and how in his earthly ministry he was asked about tragedies of his day (some Galileans killed by Pontius Pilate; a tower that fell and crushed eighteen people; see Luke 13:1-5).  Some were asking Jesus whether those who suffered were being punished for their sins.  Jesus’ answer was that those who suffered these things were no worse than any other sinner who deserves God’s wrath every moment of every day.  Yet the Lord in his mercy spares most of us from the daily experience of such tragedy.  We rarely are aware of his constant mercy in shielding us from such things, much less do we stop to express thanksgiving to him for these ordinary graces.  Jesus’ challenge to those who asked about the tragedies of his day was this:  “but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5).  If Jesus used such occasions to encourage clear and sober thinking then perhaps we may as well.

Here are at least two lessons that come to mind: 

First, when we hear of such terrible things we are reminded that it is the Lord who has given us every moment of peace and stability we have ever enjoyed.  We are correspondingly convicted that we have too often taken our security and prosperity for granted.  Did you go through your day today with no worries that your life or the lives of those you love might end suddenly and tragically?  In that case, God is to be thanked.

Second, we are also reminded that whatever the turmoil and hardship of life we have a shelter and refuge in the Lord.  In the days after September 11, 2001, many found comfort in the opening verses of Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

 

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

 

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

 

They still hold a lot of weight.  The apostle Paul could write from a prison cell:  “for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

May the Lord grant us wisdom and discernment as we process and evaluate all that we see, hear of, and directly experience in the world to make us more grateful to God and more content in his blessings.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

2 comments:

Armand said...

Amen!

Great lessons that we American Christians need to learn and hold fast to, for the coming days may not be as comfortable as we are used to.

May God remove all crutches and vices that Christ might have the preeminence in out hearts.

Kipp said...

Good words, dear brother. As a shepherd of a flock, bringing the body back to the Word as we examine the things that go on around us is paramount, both to make sense of such things and draw comfort from what we have, and who we are, in Christ.