God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah. (Psalm 46:1–3—NKJV)

There is no substitute for a refuge in times of trouble. With a place of refuge there is hope in protection, help in our weakness, motivation in getting there, and courage in the prospect of a better day. There is great cause for initiative and purpose when there is a place to which to flee in troublesome circumstances.

When our family was small we would while away vacation evenings canoeing. We would equip our kids with life vests and pack them away in the canoe. Betsy and I manned the bow and stern of the canoe, and the kids each had a cushion with back rest and took up their stations along the floor of the canoe. In their young minds the lake was deep, dark, and far from shore. Since our kids were just learning to swim, and their exposure to the lake was only in the shallows, there was a little concern voiced when they realized boats can sink.

In order to equip them in the face difficult possibilities, we made a game out of it. We taught the kids that if the canoe goes over, it will not sink. As gracefully as possible go into the water, trusting the life vest to keep you afloat, and hang on to the gunnels of the canoe. Then we taught them that the next thing to do was to get to the closest shore. On several occasions after the first instruction when we would canoe out into the deep of the lake, I would intermittently ask the kids to identify the closest landfall. Their heads would search all along the horizon, and then they would point out the closest bit of land. Betsy and I did not hear much more concern out of them, because there was a plan and there was a visible point of hope in case of emergency.

The Bible speaks to a more poignant picture of hope. The believer’s hope (God) is his refuge in trouble. A review of our verses describes the trouble as a most severe circumstance, akin to a quaking earth and a tsunami in the sea, that is sure to take a toll upon humanity. Visions come before our eyes of natural disasters, upheavals among nations, and insurmountable trials common to life in a fallen world. In such circumstances, a man has one of two choices. If he has no greater hope, he will choose to hunker down the best he knows how, especially if he has no refuge to which to go. In effect, he becomes his own refuge. If he perceives he has a possible refuge, he will gather his family and his most cherished possessions together with whatever salvaged provisions he can lay his hands upon, and then begin trudging his way to that place of hope.

Psalm 46 states three times that God is our refuge, each time followed by the command to think upon it. “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah (verse 7).” “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah (10–11).” Do not be duped by false hopes by fleeing to a mirage of protection, as is illustrated in Isaiah 28:15, “When the overflowing scourge passes through, it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.” Instead, heed the words of Proverbs 14:26–27, “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.”

In these times of upheaval, identify the closest “Shore of Protection;” flee to Him, and draw courage while you range the trackless sea, because disasters are tamed in His hands. Hebrews 6:18–19 states, “That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus.” Trust and obey.