“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
Soon after entering one of the shelters for Hurricane Harvey evacuees, a woman asked, “Are you a priest?” (I was there wearing a black shirt and white collar.) When I said yes, she said, “I need to take you to someone who just lost 6 family members.”
She led me to a man who was lying down, staring at the ceiling. After he sat up, the woman introduced me to Andrew.
I asked if what I’d heard was true. He said it was. He then said, “I can’t rest. When I close my eyes I see them. When I open my eyes they aren’t there. I will not rest until I find them.”
I asked him to tell me about them. While he was sharing his memories, his young son showed me pictures of everyone. How can a young boy make sense of so much loss? How can anyone?
At one point he saw that I had a bible. He asked me to read a passage. I read today’s passage from Psalm 46.
He asked, “Do you actually believe those words?” I said, “I believe these words because if the Lord God hadn’t been my refuge and strength I wouldn’t be alive.”
He said, “Read them again.” I did.
We sat silently for several minutes. He then said, “Because you believe those words, I’ll believe them. I need God as my refuge and my strength.”
A few days after meeting Andrew, he called. He’d left the shelter to join the recovery team to find his loved ones. He was there when they were found. Andrew told me he could now rest.
I encourage you to read Psalm 46. I pray you will believe its promises. I know those promises to be true.
You—like Andrew, like me, like all—need God to be our refuge in the storms, our strength in our weakness, and our very present help for our very dire needs.
- When have you known that God was your refuge and strength? What were the circumstances?
- Have you ever felt like God wasn’t giving you the refuge and strength that you needed? If so, when? If so, how did you cope and deal with your circumstances? Have you ever considered that God had actually been present with you even if you didn’t feel it?
- Although I haven’t always felt God’s peace and strength, I do know that what I said to Andrew was true—without God I wouldn’t be alive. Do you know the same?