Lucia's Blog: 2021-03-21
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A SHELTER IN THE TIME OF STORM

“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him.”  
Nahum 1:7



When my heart is overwhelmed, I find so much comfort singing songs of praise.  They lift my spirit.  The song “A Shelter in The Time of Storm” describes our LORD as a shelter for us amid life’s storms.  It assures us that we are safe with God, our Shelter, during dark and difficult times.  Our LORD is our Shelter because He is our Rock in whom we hide in the time of storm.  He is a great Rock in a weary land.
"Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land"  (Isaiah 32:2).  

Because He is our Rock, we can surely hide in His shadow for safety.
"Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings... "  (Ps. 17:8-9).  

As we hide in His Shadow, we are secure from all ills.
"You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety19 You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor"  (Job 11:18-19). 

Our God is our defense from alarms.  He is our shade by day as a tree provides shade from the sun.
"The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night" (Ps. 121:5-6).  

Indeed, our God is our fortress, stronghold of defense in darkness, by night.
"In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.  2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me"  (Ps. 31:1-2).  

Hence, we have no reason to be afraid or fearful amid our time of storm.
"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can flesh do to me?"  (Ps. 56:3-4).  

He is our Shelter in the time of storm, for He is our retreat in Whom we find safety.  God provides us a safe retreat from our trials and tribulations.
"I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest"  (Ps. 55:8)

"Sustain me so that I may be safe, That I may have regard for Your statutes continually"  (Psalm 119:117).

"And sent Timothy, our brother and God’s minister in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith; 3 that no man be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that hereunto we are appointed. 4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction; even as it came to pass, and ye know"  (1 Thess. 3:3-4).

"But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one" (2 Thess. 3:4).

“For Thou hast been a shelter for me (Ps. 61:3).


The past few months have been rough for my family and me.  We have been afflicted with sickness and death—sorrow over sorrow.  I feel as if a big tsunami has hit me. Without mercy, it has almost drowned me!  But I keep reminding myself that our God is much bigger and more powerful than anything.  He is more powerful than the COVID virus, and He will continue to be our place of refuge during difficult and dark times. It is a fact that all Christians must walk through the valley of affliction.  We must acknowledge that God has not promised us immunity from trouble.  In fact, Jesus told His disciples, 
“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  

Or, as the New Living Translation translates it, 
“You will have many trials and sorrows.” (John 16:33, NLT)

We must understand that God never promised that life would be easy or “a bed of roses.”  
  1. God has never promised that we Christians would never experience loss, failure,  death, or pain. 
  2. He never promised that our path would be smooth.  
  3. But God did promise never to leave us, for He will forever be standing by our side, strengthening us, comforting us, carrying us through the tough patches and bumpy roads.  
  4. He has promised to be our stronghold
  5. He has promised a place of refuge where we can go and hide amid the storms of life that rage all around us.  

God wants us to find great comfort and peace when things get tough and ugly.  And I believe in all His marvelous promises with all my heart!  We serve a God who knows us well, for He knows all of our afflictions one by one.  He walks with us in our afflictions, for He is the God of all comfort.  He is the Father of mercy.   May our God shower His mercy down, that He may bring comfort to you and me in our time of affliction.  May we comfort those who need comfort as God has shown His comfort to us.  May we show the comfort of God to others in their time of affliction as God has so graciously comforted and upheld us during our difficult times.   

Let us take a quick look at what is going on during Nahum’s time before considering chapter 1:7, where I want to focus this study.   


I.   A BRIEF BACKGROUND ON THE BOOK OF NAHUM:

Nahum is one of the Minor Prophets. The theme of Nahum is God’s wrath against Assyria.  God proclaimed through Nahum His plan to judge the city of Nineveh after allowing two hundred years of powerful Assyrian kings and rulers. This book reveals God’s distress about sin, and intention to punish the guilty of their wickedness, and His power to carry out  His judgment.

The book of Nahum is God’s prophecy about the fall of Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire. Nineveh is the city that Jonah saved from certain destruction.  God called Jonah to preach to the wicked city of Nineveh. God’s message to them was that He was going to destroy them in 40 days.  But the people of Nineveh repented, from the king all the way down to the lowliest people in the city.  And because they repented, God did not destroy them.  It made Jonah very angry.  By the end of the book of Jonah, Nineveh had repented, becoming a righteous city blessed by God.   

However, that is not the end of this story.  If we fast forward 100 years, we notice that Nineveh and the Assyrians turned back to the wicked and violent ways of living of the days before Jonah.  And thus, 100 years later, God declares, “I’ve had enough.  I’m going to destroy the Assyrians.”  There was going to be no nation left. In chapter 1, verse 2, we read:

The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.” (Nahum 1:2)


 And in verse 6:

Who can stand before his indignation?  Who can endure the heat of his anger?  His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.” (Nahum 1:6)


Indeed, God was going to destroy Assyria!

The word “Nahum” is a Hebrew word that means “comfort” or “consolation.”  Isn’t it ironic how this short book describes in great detail the destruction of Assyria written by a man named “comfort”!

But Nahum did not deliver this message to the Assyrians but to the Jews who had been conquered, mistreated, abused, killed, and carried away into captivity by the Assyrians.  God said to those Jews, 

“I know what your enemies have done, and I will make sure that they are punished for the sins they have committed against you.  In the end, I will make everything rightThe righteous will be rewarded, and the wicked will be punished.”  


Are you able to grasp the great comfort in that message?   Nahum’s message is akin to the book of Revelation, where Christians were being persecuted by the Roman Empire.  God’s great comfort in that message to them was that things were going to turn out well in the end, even though things did not look so good at the moment.  The Roman Empire was going to be destroyed.  God wanted them to see that in the end, for He was going to make everything right.  The righteous were going to be rewarded, and the wicked were going to be punished.  

However, God didn’t say to the Jews of Nahum’s day or the persecuted Christians in the first century, 

“I will take away all of your sufferings.  I will make life easy for you.”  

God never promised that.  But He did say, 

“I will be with you.  I will be your comfort.  I will be your strength.  And I will make everything right in the end.”  


With this in mind, let us focus our thoughts on Nahum 1:7, which shows us that God’s help, refuge, and power in our times of trouble is not fiction but a reality.

“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him.”  (Nahum 1:7)

  

II.  THE UNENDING STRENGTH AND PROTECTION OF GOD AMID LIFE’S TROUBLES:

  • Life’s Troubles Are a Reality:

Troubling days are not fiction but very present.  Hardship in this life is not fiction. It is a fact that life is not fair.  Money is fleeing. Youth is wasted on the young. Some people die young. Trouble comes on the unrighteous and the righteous. Just because we are Christians does not mean that our days will be trouble-free and only full of rainbows and rays of sunshine.  This life has trouble, and that is not fiction!

“Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.”  (Job 5:7)

“Man, that is born of a woman, Is of few days, and full of trouble.”  (Job 14: 1)

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  (Matthew 6:34)

“In this world you will have trouble.”  (John 16:33b)

However, the refuge of the LORD is real and not fiction.  
  1. God’s love, mercy, strength, and peace are real, not fiction. God is not fiction.   
  2. Faith in God does not bring about fictitious results. 
  3. The peace and strength that comes from an intimate relationship with God is as real as any physical relationship we have.

  • God Is Good:

“The LORD is good.” 

Indeed, God is good. God is always good, kind, merciful, and always righteous. Throughout the Bible, God is associated with verbs like “forgives,” “heals,” “redeems,” “crowns,” “satisfies,” and “renews.” That is, our God is good

    • The LORD of the Universe, Creator, and Sustainer of our lives is good, and there is no hint of evil in Him. 
    • Everything He does is good
    • His judgments are good
    • His wrath is good.
    • His Word is good. His discipline is good
    • His will is good
    • His blessings are good

Psalm 34:8 says, 

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” 


Whenever I think of God’s goodness, I cannot help but think about Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-50. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son.  Joseph dreamed that his brothers and father were bowing down to him and that one day, he would rule over them all. Joseph’s brothers were angry and jealous because their father Jacob had given Joseph more attention and affection and also because of his dreams.  Thus, they plotted to kill him. They threw him into a pit instead of murdering him.  They sold Joseph to slave traders and lied to their father, saying that a wild beast had devoured him.

While he was in slavery, Joseph worked for an Egyptian official named Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife felt hurt and angry because Joseph didn’t respond to her when she tried to seduce him.  So she lied about him to her husband, getting him thrown into jail. In jail, he had the opportunity to interpret some prisoners' dreams, prophecies that came true. One day when the Pharaoh had a dream, Joseph was called to interpret the dream. Joseph told the Pharaoh that there would be 7 years of plenty in Egypt, followed by 7 years of famine.

Pharaoh made Joseph second in command in Egypt.  Joseph organized the food during the years of plenty so that everyone didn’t starve in the years of famine. Eventually, Joseph’s brothers came to buy food but didn’t recognize him. Joseph sold them food and asked about his father.  Finally, Joseph told them his identity. Joseph’s family all moved to Egypt during the drought and famine. Joseph saved his family from certain death from starvation.

    • Does this story show God’s goodness? 
    • Was it good for Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery? 
    • Was it good for Potiphar’s wife to falsely accuse Joseph when she didn’t get her way? 
    • Was it good for Joseph to be put in jail? 
    • Was it good that there was a famine? 

None of those things were good.  However, in Genesis 37-50, we see that God was working for Joseph’s good the whole time. How do I know that?  Because in Genesis 50:19-20, Joseph said: 

“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” 


This is not fiction. God is good. That is the truth, the reality.

  • God Is A Refuge (Shelter, Stronghold):

“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.”


The word “refuge” in this verse means “a strong place of safety and protection.” A bomb shelter is a place of refuge from war. Our homes are a refuge from the hustle and bustle of work and life.  The word “refuge” means a place of absolute safetyOur LORD is our shelter (stronghold, refuge)  because He is our defense from alarms.  We can always look to Him as our Helper and Refuge, for He is always near in life’s storms.
"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.  2 Therefore will we not fear, though the earth do change, And though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas"  (Ps. 46:1-2).

"God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my life"  (Ps. 54:4).

"Hear my voice according to Your faithfulness; Revive me, LORD, according to Your judgments... 151 You are near, LORD, And all Your commandments are truth"  (Ps. 119:149-151).


This world is not our spiritual refuge. It provides little comfort.  God is our strong safety and protection.  Our refuge or shelter from what? 

    • A refuge of salvation from being lost (2 Samuel 22:3).
    • A refuge for the truth and what is true (2 Samuel 22:31; Proverbs 30:5).
    • A refuge of peace (Psalm 2:12).
    • A refuge of gladness and joy (Psalm 5:11).
    • A refuge from evildoers (Psalm 14:6, 37:40).
    • A refuge from all wrong in the world (Psalm 18:30, 46:1).
    • A refuge from shame (Psalm 31:1).
    • A refuge that turns His ears quickly to rescue and save us (Psalm 31:2).


In the Psalms, God is often described as our shelter, refuge, a fortress in the time of the storm.   Consider a few of them.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  (Psalm 46:1)

"The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”  (Psalm 18:2)

"Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy."  (Psalm 61:1-3)

 Most of the Psalms that speak about God as our refuge, stronghold, and shelter in the storm were written by DavidA man who lived his life amid trouble for many years.  He was physically worn out because of what he had to endure—a man who was forced to run from King Saul to find shelter in the mountains to hide.  But, more than that, David needed the shelter that only God can provide through his dark times of distress.  Truly, David needed shelter in the time of storm when he felt surrounded by enemies. His people wanted nothing to do with him. Even his friends turned their backs on him. 
 As I read these Psalms, I can definitely relate to David.  Why?  Because we all must struggle with life’s pain and sorrow.  We all must deal with suffering, rejection, criticism, gossip, slander, and evil that threatens to harm us.  However, we have God’s blessed assurance that we can go to Him to find refuge or shelter when trouble and hardship seem to invade our lives.  We know that we can pray to God, for His presence is with us.  We can open His Word to find peace and comfort.   We sing songs to praise God to be lifted spiritually into the throne room of God. We can find strength, wisdom, and perseverance amid our struggling times. It is not fiction but a reality that God is our refuge, shelter, and stronghold.

  • God Cares:

“He cares…  “ 


The word “care” can mean a lot of things. Let me explain.  For instance, our care for a dog is different from our care for the lawn, baby, or finances. You see, different things must be cared for in different ways. So how does God care for us? 

In Deuteronomy 11:11-12, we read,

“But the land you are entering to possess is a land of mountains and valleys, watered by rain from the sky. 12 It is a land the LORD your God cares for. He is always watching over it from the beginning to the end of the year.” 


It means that God is always watching over us and that we are never out of His sight.

In Psalm 55:22

Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”


It means that God will give us strength and sustain us.  He will hold us up and not allow us to be shaken.  

1 Peter 5:7

“Casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.”


It means that God cares for us in the midst of our anxiety.  


Personally, I am always mindful of God’s care for me and how He has often made a way for me when there seemed to be no way. Our loving God goes before us to bless us even when we are not aware that He cares for us and is carrying us through the storm.   God is the “point man” on a strike team. He is in the front hacking branches down in the Amazon. He is the One making life level for us, for He knows what is ahead of our path’s journey.

  • We Can Trust God:

“Who trust in him.”


Our verse speaks of those who “trust in him.”  How do we trust God?   Trust in God does not mean that we must believe everything will go the way we want it to.  If that were true, those who obey God should be the most enviable people on earth. Everything must go their way. Is that really true?  No, for it doesn’t work that way!  Those who are God’s righteous children are many times murdered for their beliefs and convictions. Others lose their jobs or livelihoods because of their faith and faithfulness to God.  Some deceive themselves, thinking that “believing in” God entitles them to a problem-free life.  So when troubles come their way, they think they either don’t have enough faith or God is “not holding up His end of the bargain.”

Trust in God does not mean that God must explain everything that is going on in our lives. God didn’t answer Job when he asked, “Why me?” God does not owe us an explanation when life is painful and confusing. Our infinite, eternal, and all-powerful God, the God of the Universe, does not owe us an explanation! We are not His father or Lord or King… He is our Father, Lord, and King. Trusting God means that no matter what happens or what life throws our way, whether good or bad, we still turn to Him rather than away from Him. That’s it!  Even when life hurts painfully and nothing we have asked God for worked out the way we were hoping it would… we still turn to Him with all of our heart.

In the end, we have only 3 choices:

    1. Trust in God. God is a benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent God who is in complete control and will one day wipe all evil from the face of the Universe.  God is the only One who can restore all humanity by the blood of Jesus Christ to harmony, peace, and joy.  It is indeed the best choice to make by far.
    2. Put our trust in fate, destiny, karma, or some other type of worldly concept.   This is the way the world without God chooses to alleviate its stress when life is overwhelming.  And though it is true that trust in “karma” might help in some way, for the most part, it has its limitations because we can never find hope or meaning.  Fate does not guarantee that our pain will end.  Fate does not care about you. Fate is just fate. Destiny is just destiny.
    3. Trust only in self.  This is the worst of these three choices. We human beings are notoriously unreliable.  We cannot control the weather. We cannot even control our tongues, certainly not the “stock market,” or even our health. Much less can we control our past or present or future. Trusting only in self leads to disaster.

Thus, it is not fiction that we must trust in God.  God is good, our refuge in times of trouble, and He cares for those who trust in Him.  We serve a good God who is ever-present in our lives when this world’s garbage and lawlessness rear up and bite us.  That same God is ever-present when life is full of troubles and pain.  God cares for us amid life’s storms because He loves us more than we can possibly know! 


CONCLUSION:

When life is uncertain and full of troubles and worries, we must turn to God in prayer for wisdom and peace and allow Him to fill us with His Word to strengthen us.  Although trouble in life is very present, God Almighty’s unending strength and protection are a reality and not fiction.

We must turn to God and trust in Him when life disappoints us or breaks us, for He is our refuge and shelter in the time of storm.  As a tree provides shade from the sun, so our God is our shade by dayHe is our place of safety in darkness.  He is our fortress of defense by night.  Thus we must not be afraid or fearful, for in God Almighty, we can find refuge to keep us safe while the storms of life are raging furiously all around us.  

Often life’s trials and tribulations are symbolized as raging storms in the Bible (Ps. 55:8; 119:117; 1 Thess. 3:4).  Jesus is also described as our shelter because He is our Rock in whom we can hide.  As Christians, we can rest assured that “no fears alarm, no foes affright,” as long as we look to Jesus as “A Shelter in the time of storm.”  

Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A shelter in the time of storm.


Life is full of whys that we will never be able to resolve or answer.  One of the questions we ask more than any other is, "Why?"  "Why Lord… ?"  And though there are many why’s we will never be able to answer, there are many things in life that we know for sure.  
  • We know that we live in a broken world.  
  • We know that God has not given us a ticket out of this world's brokenness just because we are His children.  
  • Sadly, so often, what happens to us and those we love involves pain, hurt, shock and despair. 
  • This world we live in is not our home, for it does not operate the way God intended.

There is something else I know for sure.
  • We have a God of Grace who meets His children’s needs and who never forsakes them in their times of darkness and hardship.  
  • Our gracious God is worth running to for refuge and safety.  
  • He is worth waiting for.  
  • He brings us sweet rest from our heavy burdens when it feels like there is no rest to be found.
  • Our Almighty God has always cared for those who trust in Him and need refuge, a shelter in the time of storm in their lives. 
Indeed, He is a God of great comfort!

God gives us comfort not only for our own well-being but also for the benefit of those around us.  Paul said,  

“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God”  (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). 


Our God is the God of all comfort and mercies.  He comforts us in our times of trouble.  He is ever-present when we walk through the trials of life.  He is not far from us, for He is with us comforting us in all our troubles.   But God’s comfort does not end with what He does for us, as if that were the end of His purpose.  Paul says that the comfort that we receive from God is not just for us, for we must share that same comfort with others as they go through life’s trials.  God comforts us so that we may comfort others.  I am so grateful to my gracious God for being with me in the toughest moments of my life!  I want to be God’s reflection of that comfort He granted me to others amid their storms.  That is the way God in His wisdom has designed the body of Christ to function.  

I wonder.  

  • Are we willing to provide a place of refuge to others today?  
  • Are we willing to be there for others who have had the bottom drop out of their life?  
  • Are we willing to care enough and listen while someone cries because of their heavy burdens?  
  • Will we be there for someone when life is awful to them?  
  • Will we be willing to care when someone is hurting?  
  • Will we try to understand what they are going through and provide a place of refuge or shelter to them in their storm?  

We Christians have been the recipients of God’s comfort so many times in our own lives.  Thus, we must stand ready to be that place of refuge to others!  Every Christian must be a storm shelter to those who are hurting and need our loving compassion.  Why?  Because
“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him.”  (Nahum 1:7).  

And also because He is  
“The God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). 

Let this sink deeply into your hearts!                                      

Let us be thankful to God for sending His Son, our Lord, and Savior, into a world of suffering and sin to pay the ransom for our sins that we might have eternal life. We have the hope that one day there will be no more affliction.  There will be no more suffering and deathIt is our greatest comfort!  As Nahum expressed it clearly, the day is coming when God will make all things right.  The righteous will be rewarded, and the wicked will be punished.  Oh, what a great comfort in knowing that!

Moreover, we must be thankful for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Although we live in a world full of tribulation and affliction, we have the hope of that resurrection to help us endure till the end. There is coming a day when all of our sufferings and trials will come to an end.  God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.  Let this hope be our greatest comfort and motivator.  Let us praise our God for the hope we have in Christ Jesus, not just in the future, but for the comfort we receive from Him even today.

May we always trust in God to help us amid our sufferings and trials.  May we turn to God in times of tribulation and affliction to find refuge, unending strength, and protection.  May He be our shade of defense and our shelter in the time of storm.  May He be our shelter when the raging storms may round us beat.  May He be our Helper and our Rock in the weary land in Whom we hide for safety and refuge.  And may we always be thankful to God for sending His Son, our Lord, and Savior, into a world of suffering and sin.

I hope the words of our beautiful song, “A Shelter In The Time of Storm,” will lift your soul the way it does mine.  

"A Shelter In The Time of Storm"

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,

A shelter in the time of storm.
A shade by day, defense by night,
A shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes affright,
A shelter in the time of storm.

The raging storms may round us beat,
A shelter in the time of storm
We’ll never leave our safe retreat,
A shelter in the time of storm.

O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,
A shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our Helper ever near,
A shelter in the time of storm.
 
The chorus 
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A shelter in the time of storm.

 


Luci