We Will Declare

I woke up feeling heart-sore and helpless this morning.

Have you ever felt like that?

When the desperate prayers you prayed the night before still press hard and unrelenting upon you – with no real answer in sight?

This is how I feel today.

I’m fine. My family is fine. Believe me.

However, I have friends, many friends, who are under siege from an avalanche of very different, but very real and terrifying challenges. These are the kind of troubles that are difficult to bear and difficult to understand.

I have three dear friends who are courageously battling life-threatening cancer.

In a nation I love, severe food, goods, petrol, and currency shortages foreshadow terrible things to come.

I know friends who are experiencing oppression and distress for standing up for what is right and good and honorable.

A sweet and precious family is mourning their murdered son, uncle, and brother. They are dealing with devastating, devastating grief and asking questions that will never materialize this side of heaven.

And I have friends who feel lost, confused, sad, stressed, and afflicted by real-life nightmares that they never, ever, ever, ever imagined would be part of their story. Honestly, if it was possible, we’d use a magic wand to cause each of these cataclysmic situations to disappear with a wave and a poof!

Yet, here we are.

Nothing has changed this morning.

Cancer cells still multiply.

Injustice, cruelty, and persecution still jeopardize.

Grief and sorrow still weigh heavy.

Confusion, misunderstanding, betrayal, and loss still devastate hearts and worry minds.

Where is the protection and care of the Lord in such times?

For the Lord promises His strong shelter and fortress of protection to His people, doesn’t He?

His word says:

As for God, His way is perfect. The word of the Lord is flawless.

He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.

New International Version, 2 Samuel 22:31

We take heart when we read:

God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble.

New International Version, Psalm 46:1

His word promises:

My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is a mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in Him at all times, O People, pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.

New International Version, Psalm 62:7-8

We are exhorted:

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.

New International Version, Psalm 91:2

Again, we are encouraged:

For you have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

New International Version Isaiah 25:4

And finally, I think we can definitely relate to Jeremiah’s cry:

Do not be a terror to me; you are my refuge in the day of disaster.

New International Version, Jeremiah 17:17

What do all of these verses have in common?

First, these verses are declarations. A declaration is a public word which announces a statement, a claim, or a conviction. Second, in each verse, the refuge, strength, and help of the Lord is declared in the face of personal distress, political oppression, natural disaster, and fear of death.

Refuge, in each of these verses, comes from the Hebrew transliterated word machach. Machach is referenced twenty different times in Scripture. However, its primitive root, chacah can be located nearly 100 times in the Old Testament. Machach is a noun which means a place of refuge, shelter, protection, confidence, hope, and trust in God. Whereas chacah is a verb which means to flee for protection, to seek refuge, and to put one’s trust, hope, and confidence in God. Thus, refuge is a place of hope and refuge is a word of active, present hope.

The refuge of God is the place where we can receive the spiritual strength of Jesus Christ.

This strength of might helps us hold on when we know we have little ability or capacity.

This strength of heart helps us endure when our emotions are raw.

This strength of mind helps us bear our situation with peace, patience, and resolve.

This strength of purpose helps us determine to keep going forward despite the danger.

This strength of grace helps us stand upon the promises of God.

And all of these strengths are found in one place – in the sheltering, protective, hope-filled refuge of God. We are poor, helpless beings. We are. Well, at least I confess that I am poor and helpless as I consider the tremendous burdens and difficult, crazy-making challenges each of my friends are facing at the moment – and there’s really nothing I can physically do to assist them.

Yet in God, in His refuge, we may find an exceedingly abundant and strong help in times of trouble.

His refuge is declared as real, available, strong, and sure in verse upon verse upon verse upon verse.

Will we take hold of these promises of refuge as we experience the very real and very troubling situations in our lives?

German theologian Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) did. He declared his trust in his God as he dealt with threat, persecution and imprisonment because of his faith position from the religious and political establishment. His political woes discouraged him.

Yet, here is what Martin Luther declared in response:

A sure stronghold our God is He,
A timely shield and weapon
Our help He’ll be, and set us free
From every ill can happen.
And were the world with devils filled,
All eager to devour us,
Our souls to fear shall little yield,
They cannot overpower us.

Later, these heart-strengthening words based upon Psalm 46:1 would be translated to become the well-known and beloved hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God” – a strong declaration of God’s refuge and strength for generation upon generation.

So, dear friends, in the midst of our nightmarish situations, we can announce as the psalmists did and as Martin Luther did that God is our refuge.

I will say in every time of trouble, in every situation, in every time and place:

…when breakthroughs do not materialize

…when physical strength wanes

…when emotional health falters

…when abilities and skills have no value

…when prayers go unanswered

…when dreams die

…when threats descend

and even when everyone else fails, disappoints, or abandons

We will declare:

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.

And in the meantime, we pray and we pray and we pray.

May the breakthroughs come.

Amen and Amen

In closing, a song of encouragement, my dear friends:

1 thought on “We Will Declare

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