Franklin Graham wrote this week: Today my heart goes out to the people of Milwaukee who are caught in the middle of violence and unrest–the community is being described as a powder keg of volatility. My heart also goes out to the people of Louisiana and Mississippi who are again experiencing devastating flooding and loss. Some may wonder—where is God in all of this? The Bible tells us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). He promises to be with us through the trials and difficulties we face in this life.
God's people have their share of trouble on earth, some an overwhelming amount, more than they can handle.
Lewis struggled profoundly with despair after the death of his wife, Helen Joy, in 1960, after only three years of marriage.
... Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels — welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?
I tried to put some of these thoughts to C. this afternoon. He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: 'Why hast thou forsaken me?' I know. Does that make it easier to understand?
Marital breakups, death of loved ones, financial pressures illness are all troubling. Breakdown in all kinds of relationships add to this trouble today. More broken hearts today than ever before. Rudy and my conversation yesterday morning.
We are looking this morning at the LORD's help for us in times of trouble. What God is...
1. He is Our Refuge
A shelter from rain or storm, from danger, of falsehood
Our refuge. Our only, impregnable, accessible, delightful place of retreat is our God. Emma and I at Disney, Hall of the Presidents, watching the parade.
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18.10
We are in a spiritual battle today.
Satan hurls fiery darts at us. These are designed to take us out.
I think the big ones coming our way are discouragement and depression and the feelings of hopelessness.
Satan is relentless. When a person is down often he heaps more troubling thoughts to their mind. He can get us to imagine some horrible scenarios. If we do not take refuge in the LORD Satan can actually immobilize us. The "What Ifs " of Satan.
At times we need a retreat due to exhaustion. Jesus did that.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, "Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6.31 I think we need to listen to this more than we do. We need to find refuge in the LORD in this rapid paced world so we can regroup, have our soul restored and to go on with life.
Our quiet times with Him are a refuge provided by Him where we commune with Him and are seated with Him in heavenly places. How good it is to sit quietly and reflect upon God's goodness in our lives.
When trouble comes and it will the LORD is our shelter in the storms of life.
2. Our Strength
As we reenter the battle, come out of retreat, He is our Strength
material or physical
personal or social or political
Our strength. Our all sufficient, unconquerable, honourable, and emboldening strength is our God.
The LORD Himself is our strength. He is in us and we are in Him.
Troublesome times can wear us out. The tax our emotions, weigh upon us until we cast our burden upon the LORD.
Psalm 55.22 Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.
This trip to Florida last week reminded me of one I took 6 years ago this month.
In August of 2010, my family in Florida was in shock at the death of Christopher, my cousin Lee's son. Six years ago on that Sunday morning in my cousin, Lori's home, I got up early before we were to leave for church and was reading my Bible and journaling. The day before I was on a Southwest Airline flight out of MacArthur. I had been reading Psalm 50-70 while I waited. These are some of David's psalms of difficulty written while Saul was pursuing him and trying to take his life. I encourage people to read these psalms while going through deep grief. I discovered how much they can help from my own experience.
Suddenly Psalm 55.22 jumped out and grabbed my heart there in MacArthur Airport. That is the verse for my family I thought. I took my journal out the next day, on that Sunday morning and wrote down the verse, "Cast all your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you." I had no sooner written it than Lori my cousin, came out and greeted me with a "Good morning". She picked up what had been our Nana's (Rose Biggs) old Promise Box, full of scriptures, the Word of God Nana had based her life upon.
Then my cousin Lori began to tell me a story about it.
She showed me how she had one card sticking out of it. She said that during a very difficult night in her life, she could not sleep, so she got up to clean. She was dusting and she accidentally knocked Nana's Promise box off. It fell on the floor and one card flew out. She showed it to me. It was Psalm 55.22 and I Peter 5.7. I showed my journal in which I had just written out Psalm 55.22 and how the day before as I began my trek to Florida the LORD had given this to me for my family there. And suddenly we realized we in the Presence of God and HE was speaking to us from His Word and our Nana's life.. We prayed, thanking God for the wonderful gift of our heritage. Our Nana had gone to heaven 22 years ago but the influence of her life lived on and the LORD was showing us that and that those promises were as true today as the day He gave them and the day our Nana read them and the night that card popped out. Our God is an Awesome God.
In the hospital 2 weeks ago and in my prayers that Sunday Evening for MaryLois and her husband, my cousin, John I reminded everyone of the Christian heritage we have.
There are times when we find life's situations to be unbearable .Six years ago I thought of Tiffany, Christopher's fiance. Wedding Invitations all sent out and now he is gone and what was to be three weeks of wonderful expectation has become difficult beyond description. Horatio Spafford and Joseph Scriven knew about this. They wrote, It is Well With My Soul and What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Scriven's fiance drowned the night before they were to be married. Spafford's entire family went down on a ship in the Atlantic. He went back to that place and wrote, "It Is Well With My Soul". We sang those hymns on the way to see MaryLois in the hospital 2 weeks ago this evening. God took her home that Friday but not before we had a wonderful time of talking about heaven. God was her guide right up to the end.
After 20 years of marriage my cousin's wife was taken from him up to heaven. In our losses when all is weakness within He is our Strength! He will be that for my cousin, for me, for you today.
He gave strength to those hymn writers in the most troubling days they could have ever imagined. He is with us1
He is an
3. A Ever Present Help In Times of Trouble
Trouble= straits, distress, vexer, rival wife
Paul wrote to the Corinthians in II Corinthians 1.1-9a
8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves... in our hearts we felt the sentence of death!
In this world you will have trouble!
He has overcome the world.
He never deserts his people in their time of distress. We may ask, "Why?" We may feel ( and that is an important term) like He has forsaken us but He never will.
Paul continued, II Corinthians 1.9-11 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God Who raises the dead, 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in Whom we trust that He will still deliver us,
A dear friend who has been severely tested wrote this week: I would never know God the way I do without having been in the fire...in the valley...is where I have been closest to Him.
"He is found an exceeding, or superlative, help in difficulties." AC
Our help. Ever near, sympathising, faithful, real, and powerful ruler is our God.
There will be times in our lives where we feel like we are going to die, we cannot go on. Then God comes and raises us up. He delivers us!
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.