July 23rd, 2012 by Kristi Stephens
The glory rains last week continued.
The rains poured down, sometimes in heavy sheets, and the thirsty ground greedily drank up all the sky threw down at us.
After the storms passed, I noticed a little survivor shivering on its own.
Drenched and stunned by the unfamiliar rains, the bird barely moved as I and my children crept close. As I drew back, I noticed other birds flying close to their troubled companion. The bird looked young to me – I wondered if its mother still guarded it from a distance. Still it sat, trembling and rooted in place.
Sometimes, like that little bird, the heavy storms catch us unaware. They leave us shaken, stunned, feeling battered and small.
The storms may come in the form of a fallen soldier. Or a job loss. Or a medical diagnosis. Or an unforeseen marriage crisis. Or a lone shooter in a dark theater. The storms devastate and we tremble, rooted in place, unsure of what to do next.
David often felt shaken and small. Disaster threatened to sweep him away as he huddled in a cave and King Saul hunted him like prey. Like that little bird he was devastated and trembling – and he learned to run to the only safe place he knew of.
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
Psalm 57:1, NIV
I crept closer to the little bird by the fence, unsure of what help I could offer but not wanting to leave it so vulnerable outside my door. Suddenly it seemed to be awakened to its circumstances and looked at me nervously, jumping off the sticks and hopping through the grass to safety.
Friday night we watched the experts discuss how to go on in normal life when the places we feel most safe and secure are violent and violated. We were told that we should explain to our children that we live in a dangerous world – but most of the time we are safe. We must learn again to trust the world, the expert said.
Dangerous advice. We do live in a dangerous world – and that surely is not where I can put my trust.
I cannot answer that haunting question of why God allows events such as these. I believe it is foolish to try, for as Job vividly realized – God is God, and we are not. His ways are not our ways, His paths beyond our finding out. But I do know this: we can trust Him, we can find refuge in Him, we can rest in His justice and compassionate heart. We can plead for His mercy and intervention in the lives of victims and their families and, yes, even in the life of a masked gunman haunted by things only God fully understands.
We live in a dangerous world. But we serve a fierce and untameable God who invites us to take refuge in Him, to find rest in His sovereign control and comfort in His perfect justice.
If you are trembling in the aftermath of the storm, please know this: you are not alone, and a place of safety awaits you if only you run to Him. God is good and worthy of your trust – even though this world is not and His justice is not always apparent to us this side of heaven. He is the only safe place. He is the only refuge in the disasters and storms of life.
Psalm 73 is a striking description of the psalmist’s struggle to understand God’s justice. I have written a free downloadable guided study of this Psalm that you are invited and encouraged to use in your own quiet time this week – you can download or print it here.
It is my prayer that we can join the Psalmist in expressing our confusion and fear and trembling heart to the Sovereign One, taking refuge in Him alone.