How to Make God Your Refuge

Lord, get me out! Ever thought this? Me too. 

I’ve thought it in the middle of summer when I’m starting to overheat and see no way of cooling down. Lord, get me out!

I’ve thought it when anxiety builds and a full-on panic attack is charging toward me like a harbinger of certain doom. Lord, get me out!

I’ve thought it when I’m entering a relational battleground where I’ll take hits but be incapable of firing back. Lord, get me out!

I’ve thought it when my body won’t stop feeling sick—when chronic pain is like a heavy chain trapping me, restricting me, tugging down my energy and spirit. Lord, get me out!

The need to escape perceived danger is an experience every human shares. We also all live in a sin-cursed world with sin-cursed bodies which means there are very real threats to our safety, well-being, and sense of certainty. It’s a dangerous world of decay, sin, and sinners. This reality cannot be denied. Optimism and positivity do not erase it.

So what do we, as believers, do when we come face to face with danger and uncertainty?

What options of escape do we have?

How does the Lord answer our cry?

God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

The Bible says that God is our refuge—a refuge is a place that provides shelter or protection. Great! But what does that actually mean?

We understand refuge best when it’s put in physical terms and the Bible gives a lot of physical examples like a fortress, a rock, being in the shelter of wings, or even literal cities. In the Old Testament, God told His people to set up “cities of refuge” in Israel, places where someone who had accidently committed murder could run to for safety and protection. These people were provided with a means of escaping retribution for their accidental crime—physical refuge from a physical danger. Easy to grasp, right?

But that only helps us further understand what a refuge is and does, not how God is our refuge. God is not in a physical form that we can literally run to for physical shelter, so how do we understand God being our refuge? Allow me to lay it out for you.

In our day-to-day lives most of us engage in escapism, which is the habitual absorption of the mind or diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine. I would argue that escapism is to fill the mind with something that brings us relief from the unpleasant sensations we’re experiencing.

We listen to music, watch shows or movies, drink alcohol, exercise, play video games, scroll on our phone, read a book, talk, take medications or drugs, or sleep. What they all have in common is the ability to cause your mind to shut off or become absorbed with something else and therefore your body to feel something else instead of danger, fear, pain, or uncertainty. We use these things as mental escapes.

Escapism is simply the act of pursuing mental refuge.

Do you see where I’m going with this? God is our mental refuge. Who He is, what He has done for you, what He has said in His Word are all places our minds can go for mental protection, strength, help, and relief.

God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

How do we take refuge in God? Simple: We think about God.

For example, when your thoughts are spinning with fears and anxiety, imagining all the ways it could go wrong or you could be hurt, you instead make yourself think about God. You can think about God being sovereign and what that means for you. You can think of all the times He has said not to fear and why you should believe Him. You can think of what He has promised you. You can think about how present He is, how active He is in your life, and how much He cares about you. This is what it is to take refuge in God. We can put our minds through this exercise any time that we need shelter from our own terrible thoughts and burdened souls. Read it again:

God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

God has made Himself the place we can go when we are in need—when we are in trouble and need shelter, strength, and help. Who He is, what He can do, what He will do, what He has said—those are refuge!

But why should we go to Him for refuge? I’m too insignificant, too needy. Believer, God wants to be your refuge. He doesn’t begrudgingly offer us shelter. He doesn’t look down on us in disdain because we are weak and needy. He doesn’t criticize us for needing rest, for needing help, for needing. He invites us to come to Him.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

God wants to be your refuge. He invites you.

He offers you an escape—an escape that can be trusted, an escape that loves you, an escape that’s secure, certain, and true; an escape you never have to feel guilty about running to. Run to the refuge. He stands always inviting you with arms wide open.

And we never have to wait for soul rescue or mental escape. God is always available to you, always inviting you, always ready to help you, always with you.

And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Do you see God as your refuge? Do you see Him as the greatest escape?  

He is our escape from the penalty of sin and certainty of hell when we accept Christ’s work on the cross for us by faith.

He is our escape from guilt because Jesus Christ has paid for every sin we’ve done, are doing, or will do and we are fully forgiven by Him.

He is our escape from despair because He promises us so much good and guarantees us a future in heaven with Him, free from pain, suffering, sin and tears. He promises hope that doesn’t disappoint. 

He is our escape from pain because He is a place our minds can go when we need mental relief and He is someone we can always go to for help, to cry, to give us strength.

He is our escape from shame because He sees us as in Christ and accepts us fully and willingly for all that we are, no exception.

He is our escape from burdens because He offers to take your cares and give you rest.

We treat God as our refuge when we focus our thoughts on God, who He is, what He has said, what He’s doing for us, and what He will do for us in the future. 

Believer, make God your refuge. Simply think about Him.

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2 thoughts on “How to Make God Your Refuge”

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