God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
This verse, which forms the basis of my favorite hymn written by Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, brings great comfort to me in the times of trouble in my life. When life’s troubles get me down and I can’t figure out how to deal with them all on my own, I am confronted and comforted by this verse. It serves as a reminder that I am not expected to, nor will I ever truly, get through life’s troubles on my own. For no matter what else happens, no matter who else is in my life, God is present and accompanying me through life’s trials and tribulations.
When I had been in South Africa for about 4 months, I experienced a time of great trouble in my life. I was away from home and my usual support networks during the Holidays for the first time. I had been pick pocketed coming home from a retreat and was struggling to deal with my sense of victimization. It was even starting to impact my interactions with those at the crèche where I was spending most of my time. Nothing I tried on my own seemed to work to make things better. Thankfully, God was very much present for me in this time of distress. God was present in the love of my sisters in Christ at the crèche who noticed something was wrong and spoke up. They took action and comforted me. They sought the help of the parish pastor and my supervisor who was able to help me work through things. In that moment, surrounded by the love of my brothers and sisters in Christ, God was very much present, and a great refuge against life’s troubles.
Now, God’s presence and ability to be a refuge and strength for people in their times of trouble is not dependent on the body of Christ, but we can and do often play a role in this nonetheless. It is one way that we can and do cooperate with God’s abundant and everlasting love for the world. And it happens every day. When we comfort each other, God is a present help in trouble. When we work together to provide a shelter for those experiencing homelessness, God is a present help in trouble. When we spend a week of our lives helping others with projects in their homes, God is a present help in trouble. When we visit a lonely person, God is a present help in trouble. When we acknowledge a beggar on the streets as a beloved child of God, God is a present help in trouble.
There are many ways that God is our refuge and strength. Sometimes, they are ways that we least expect.
God’s peace be with you,