GOD OUR REFUGE IN TROUBLE
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble” (Psa 46:1).
When we read of random shootings that massacre and wound innocent bystanders, we’re reminded that inexplicable suffering surrounds us in this fallen world. This teaches us the unchanging, eternal God is our ultimate hope and plea to make any sense amid senseless tragedy. This is just a glimpse of the collective suffering humanity endures daily from the wrong choices of others.
G. Campbell Morgan observes on Psa 46:1: “In our days of strain and calamity…it [Psalm 46] opens with figurative language, as it describes the convulsions of the most terrible known in Nature, those of the earthquake and tempest, and declares that these cannot produce fear in the hearts of those who know God.
Suddenly it introduces the picture of the city of God, gladdened by the river preceding from the dwelling place of God. Then outside, the nations are pictured in tumultuous upheaval. Over all God is reigning, commanding the tumult to cease, and declaring His determinations to be exalted. The whole song is the result of the vision of God. That is the vision which gives the heart steadiness and strength at all times.
To lose that vision is only, sooner or later, to have nothing left to look upon but storm and tempest, wreck and ruin, the anger and brutality of the massed forces of iniquity. To retain the vision of the Almighty, is still to see these things; but it is to see them all under His government, and to discover that they also are compelled to serve His ultimate purpose” (Life Applications From Every Chapter of the Bible, p. 166-167).
While God allows free-will, and some may suffer thereby, we know that how we respond to life’s problems will either drive us away from God in disappointment or drive us to Him in dependence (Rom 8:32, Job 42:5).
Discovering God in Suffering
Yet, when we grieve in suffering inflicted by the wrong choices of others, where is God? Why does He allow it?
Job is the test case of: does man serve God for nothing (Job 1:9)? Job suffered material ruin, family loss, and physically illness — all influenced by Satan’s attacks of using “accidents” of nature and men’s evil choices (Job 1:15-16,17,19; 2:7).
Where was God? Watching Job with confident that he, in his inexplicable pain, would not deny Him. This would vindicate God’s confidence that Job could withstand the test. When God allows us to suffer, He is saying, “I know you can handle this by faith in Me” (1 Cor 10:13).
What was the reward of Job, at the end of his faith refining ordeal? “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5). Job then came to have a clearer vision and greater respect for God. This, in the end, is the purpose of our faith development on earth.
G. Campbell Morgan observes: “Job’s answer…is characterized by stately submission. In his words of surrender…he had been brought to a new sense of God. In the power of it he knew that much of his past speech had been that of ignorance, and he confessed that it was so….This utterance of surrender is ever the vindication of God. There was no explanation of pain, but was forgotten. A man had found himself in relationship with God, and in so doing had found rest….Having passed through the fiery furnace, the last days of Job were more blessed than his earlier ones.
In this great Book, there is no solution of problems. There is a great revelation. It is that God may call men into fellowship with Himself through suffering; and that the strength of the human soul is ever that of the knowledge of God” (Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible, p. 152).
Every grievous problem or inexplicable suffering is an occasion to strengthen our relationship with a good and merciful God (Ja 5:11). “Blessed is the man…delight in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by streams of water. which yields its fruit in season and its leaf does not wither” (Psa 1:1-3).
Suffering reminds us of our human limitations, that it is we who need God supremely and not He who needs us. In each difficult, I must decide to either give up or go on by faith in God. Life is for our character test, to prove our faith, to develop patience and to exhibit our love for God (Ja 1:2-4,12). Whatever brings me closer to see the greatness of God is ultimately good.