Let Debbie and I be open with you:
Debbie's sister-in-law, Cindy is experiencing a recurrence of cancer (her and her husband are missionaries to China).
Debbie's mom is slowly "going downhill" and is now in assisted living.
As I write this - this morning, my dad is in surgery to remove any more of the cancer cells in his bladder and to see if the cancer has spread.
It is a trying time in our lives.
Lots of pressure. Lots of stress.
Yet here is what I know: God is a refuge for His children in times of pressure and stress.
Listen to the words of David in Psalms 91:
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Surely he will have you from the Fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge." Psalms 91:1-4.
God provides a shelter - a refuge.
Are you under enormous pressure right now? Are you feeling like there are some unfriendly people or forces that you just can't seem to escape?
In the Old Testament, God established six cities for the people of Israel to run to in a time of need. They were spread out for easy access. They all had paths going their way and signposts pointing to the city or refuge.
Joshua 20:23 states, "to designate the cities of refuge as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood."
Sometimes we need a safe place to run to. Free from accusations and negativity.
God is that refuge - and He delights in that role.
God is our physical refuge. In a times of physical need (such as my father today) He is there to provide healing and comfort.
God is our spiritual refuge. He "shelters us under his wings."
A couple of years ago, outside my office window here at Stone Church, I watched as a mother Robin built a nest, had some chicks - and then watched as the little chicks hopped around chirping, pecking, doing all that chick stuff.
I watched as someone or something came over to the nest and all of a sudden the mother bird would lift both wings simultaneously and within just a few seconds all the baby chick disappear under them.
They hide there.
They are sheltered there.
They regroup there.
Eventually, they have to crawl out to face the real world again, but for a time, there is nothing like being sheltered under wings.
Here's what I know: Hurting people need a refuge from their distress.
Who needs a refuge? Well, I would suggest that if you have to ask - you probably haven't needed one yet.
Cities of refuge didn't mean much to the average guy on the Old Testament streets of Israel. But to the person who had a blood avenger chasing them, it was the most important place on the planet.
God is our emotional refuge.
Are you feeling oppressed today? Run under His wings.
Are you feeling troubled? Run under His wings.
Are you feelings worried? Run under His wings.
Do you feel grief? Run under His wings.
Do you feel lonely? Run under His wings.
God says, "Let me shelter you for a time. Let me shelter you from those angry, spouses that some of you are dealing with. Let me shelter you from devious business partners, from frightening medical reports, from overwhelming financial needs, from parents or children who do not understand."
I can hear God whispering to all of us in need today, "Stay here for a time."
Take the first step.
Psalms 91:15 says, "When he calls upon me (God is speaking to you and I) then I will answer him. When he calls upon me, I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and honor him.
Call out to God today. Run to God. Don't hesitate.
Secondly, pour out your hearts to God.
Just for a moment, stop complaining to those around you about your adversity - and give it to God. Let God take care of it. Let God take control.
I love Psalms 62:8, "Pour out your hearts to God, for he is a refuge for us.
Pouring our hearts out to God is messy. It is not pretty. But God welcomes us to rest under His wings.
You can do this anytime, anywhere.
Just a thought for a Thursday.