In Psalm 91, the psalmist runs to God for refuge from danger and destruction.
I don’t hear the word refuge much these days. It’s not really American to want to take refuge. We are encouraged to stand and fight, to strive harder, to never back down or walk away. Refuge sounds like a cop-out, like giving up. Only losers run to safety. Seeking refuge can sound like weakness or even failure.
Maybe that’s the problem. If we never seek refuge, then we never wake up to tell the truth about what we can and cannot do. In the most disturbing places of our lives, we are, in fact, often powerless. When we face a life-threatening diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, or an unpredictable financial hardship, we quickly realize we are not in control and cannot achieve our desired outcome on our own. We live in the illusion that we can fix anything if we just try hard enough. This deception distorts our understanding of ourselves and of who God is for us.
When we tell the truth about our lives, we take refuge “in the shelter of the Most High” where there is freedom and peace. This is neither weakness nor failure. It is truth-telling at its most vulnerable and real when we too “say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.’”
To be clear, we very often do have the capacity to effect change, take initiative, and make things happen. God has given us gifts to be disciples of Jesus in the world, and we follow God’s call to use those gifts. But we also must learn to recognize our limits and seek God’s refuge and peace.
When you tell the truth about your life, where do you long to seek refuge? Share that with God now.
While Jeremiah is in prison, God tells him to buy a field. This transaction shows that in the future, life will return to normal. It is an “enactment prophecy,” where a prophecy is given through actions instead of just words. The psalmist rejoices in the protection that God provides to the faithful. God is a fortress, a covering, and a shield. Paul admonishes his readers not to fall into materialism. The love of money, not money itself, is the root of all kinds of evil, and those obsessed with it build their hopes on shifting sands. Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who has fallen into that very trap. Only after death, when it is too late, does he realize his mistake.
Read Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15. How do you live as if God’s promises were already true?
Read Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16. How do you turn toward God with hope in times of darkness?
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-19. Whether you have few or many possessions, how do they get in the way of your following Jesus?
Read Luke 16:19-31. God knows each of us by name. Do you know the names of the persons in your community who have obvious or internal unmet needs?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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