One of the questions that continues to linger in the minds of many today is where in the world can we find a safe place to live? While governments and other institutions are doing all that they can to combat the growing unrest, they seem to be helpless due to the fact that the perpetrators are becoming more daring and cunning. This unrest is spreading far and wide so that even countries that did not have much trouble before are now experiencing it. Since there is no such place where we could find complete peace and safety, it is best that, like King David, we cry out; “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge” (Psalm 16:1). Only God can shield us and provide a safe haven for us in this troubled world.
To further reinforce our faith in God, the Psalmist said, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (Psalm 46:1-2). It is comforting to know that God is always available to help – anywhere and anytime. This gives us special confidence to go through life’s challenges without fear and anxiety. Indeed, the worst that we can ever go through in times of trouble is not having a place to go and seek shelter. But thanks be to God! He shelters us in our deepest need.
When we go before the Lord for shelter, we need to humble ourselves and acknowledge that apart from him we cannot do anything. Like King David, we should even go further and say, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” (Psalm 16:2) Indeed, apart from the Lord, we cannot do anything good that matters for eternity. If we think that we have done enough to be good and profitable member of society, we have to think again. If we have done these apart from God, these are only rubbish before him. The prophet Isaiah’s confession properly reflects our standing before God. He said, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). For us to become righteous and pleasing before God, we need to appropriate Jesus’ righteousness for ourselves. When this happens, God no longer sees our own righteousness but Christ’s righteousness in us.
Our helplessness apart from God was also emphasized by the Lord Jesus Christ when he said, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). Our successes and accomplishments in life are not guarantees that we are favoured by the Lord. Therefore, we should not be tempted to brag about these as if these are good proof that we are favoured and thus, guaranteed of salvation. The truth of the matter is that material blessings come even to the unbelievers. Jesus clearly said that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Mark 5:45). What matters most to God is our soul. No amount of silver and gold is enough to buy our salvation. It is a free gift of God and the result of having a right relationship with him.
In highlighting the need to be well connected with him, Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This statement reveals that work done apart from his is a work done in vain. The branch that does not remain connected with the vine will not only be fruitless but will soon wither. No wonder many do not find their accomplishments in life very fulfilling. No amount of wealth could satisfy them and they keep craving for more. Again, not because the Lord releases material blessings that it can be construed as favour received from the Lord. The Lord can be pressured to give because he is gracious but what we receive will turn out not be a blessing in the end. This was the case of Israel when they were in the wilderness. They were not content with the food that the Lord provided. They craved for meat and cried out to God day and night. Because of their complaining and murmuring, God yielded to their demand. He gave them the meat that they craved. Nevertheless, we are told that “while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague”‘ (Numbers 11:33). Similarly, many have forced God to release his material blessings but they are now suffering as a consequence. If only they have learned to make the Lord their shelter and continue to get connected to the Lord, they would have surely been kept safe from what ails them today. The Lord is indeed our refuge and strength. He will keep us safe and secure in his hands. Hallelujah!