One of the biggest talking points of 2016 was the issue of ‘Refuge’. Across Europe, people had been arriving from North Africa and the Middle East for years and 2016 was no different.
However, seeking refuge is not something new to us by any means. The people of Israel sought refuge from their oppressors when they cried out while in Egypt and very soon they were left in no doubt who could provide them with refuge.
The writer of Psalm 46:1 also tells us that;
‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…’
For most of us the need for refuge may not seem so clear. Most of us are not running from wars or famine, many of us have never known the struggle of poverty firsthand or the whip of an oppressor. Nevertheless, we are all in need of refuge now and again and often the struggles of daily life and pressures of the world around us drive us to seek refuge in all of the wrong places.
Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual sins and self harm. Issues like these are rife in our society when we do not know where to turn. Often Christians are no different. We seek refuge and help in the world, when we have God guiding and helping us, with the Spirit supporting us from inside!
So, how can we know that when we turn to God He is there to guide us and provide us with refuge?
(1) There are no lengths that God will not go to in order to rescue you from sin
The first thing that we need to remember when we are in need of refuge is that Jesus Christ left heaven for us when we were worth noting at all.
So often, in my own walk with Christ, I fail to seek refuge in Him because I think I am not worthy of His refuge. I feel like He won’t want to hear from me, that my problems are not bad or serious enough to annoy God with, that somehow He has better things to do than listen to how I am hurting or feeling.
However, Paul reminds us in Romans 5:6 that Jesus Christ left heaven itself to die for us, and provide us with refuge, when we were powerless and nothing.
‘You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.’
If Jesus thinks that I am worth leaving heaven for (worth dying for) when I am His enemy, how can I, a Christian and a child of God, doubt that He wants to rescue me and provide me with His refuge? Of course He does.
If God thinks you are worth leaving heaven for, He thinks you are worth rescuing in your hurts and pains throughout your walk with Him.
Take a while to dwell on that truth today and be encouraged by it.
(2) God knows what it means to be a refugee
Secondly, we can be encouraged by remembering that when we are in need of refuge, of rest and a place to be comforted in a time of trouble that Christ knows how we feel.
Often, we despair in our pain and heartache because we believe that there is nobody who knows how we feel, But, not only does Christ care about how we feel (see point (1)) He actually knows how we feel.
Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us that we have a High Priest who was tempted in all ways as we are and as such:
‘… we do not have a High Priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses…’
We know that Christ Himself knows what it is like to be a child forced from His country because of terror and violence, but He was tempted in all ways as we are. That means that sometimes Christ felt like giving up. That means that sometimes Christ felt like seeking refuge in the wrong place, in the physical. That means that He found it hard when,’He was despised and rejected..’. That means that Christ overcame all of that … and so can you…
‘Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16)
Too often I am a Christian on the side of the rejectors and not on the side of the rejected; relying on my pride and my own strength to see me through. Yet, that is not where we see Christ. Rather, we see Christ in the lives of the rejected; those who walk a road that is almost too much to walk. We see Him in children forced from their countries because of violence, we see Him in those who seem like they have too much to overcome. And ultimately, we see Him in lives that overcame all and are now victorious, on the road to be with Him for eternity.
Embrace His refuge, Christian, and share it with others …