Joy is a mark of Christian maturity. It’s evidence of the Spirit’s work in us (Gal 5:22). As Christians, we should be defined by a joyous living. Yet anyone who has walked thru life as a follower of Jesus knows the challenge of joy-filled living. Life in a fallen world hits us hard. We look at difficult circumstances in our lives and respond with stress. We are weary from the ongoing battle with sin. We know we are supposed to find joy in God, but we often ask, “how?”
King David understands. He knew the heartache of his own sin (Psalm 51). He knew the pain of losing loved ones (2 Samuel 12:14-23), family turmoil (2 Samuel 13), and friends turning into enemies (1 Samuel 18-19). David also knew the joy of life with God. He had an uncanny resolve to fight for joy when his soul was in despair.
Psalm 16is a good example of this. Here King David brings his soul from a place of helplessness to a place of true happiness in God. Psalm 16 is like a building. The basement is where David begins with pleading desperation. If we get in the elevator with David we see his soul rise as he meditates on the truth of who God is. Eventually, David is on the rooftop of joy. These four truths about God give us a primer for praying our souls into joy. Today, let’s explore the first truth: God is your refuge.
“Preserve me, O God. For in you I take refuge.”
David begins in verse 1 with a request: “Preserve me, O God.” This is the cry of a desperate man. We don’t know the circumstance surrounding this plea. This is helpful to us. Many of the Psalms don’t give us specifics surrounding context and circumstance. This means we can apply them to our experiences without the excuse we are prone to make in trials, “He doesn’t knowmy experience.” It’s enough for us to know that David was brought to a place where he recognized his insufficiency in his trial and he cried out to God. All of us can relate.
Where does David go in his desperation and discouragement? He goes straight to God. David calls God his refuge; a safe haven, a place of protection. The modern day equivalent would be a storm shelter that’s made to withstand the fiercest of storms. When your home is in the path of a tornado you go directly to the storm shelter. The winds blow thru, the house may be wiped away, but the storm shelter stands firm. Where is the first place you go when the storm comes? Go directly to God in prayer. He is your refuge.
A Simple Prayer
Notice how simple David’s prayer is: Preserve me O God. Protect me. You are a safe place when all around seems to be crashing down. David isn’t asking for circumstances to change. He’s not trying to figure out the “why?” question behind his struggle. He simply goes to God. And in doing so David moves up one floor; from a place of helplessness to a place of safety in God.
In our trials, we may be tempted to first find a solution within ourselves; “How can I fix this?” Or we may desire all of the answers to what God’s purpose may be at such a time. While there may be a place for considering solutions and prayerfully considering God’s purpose, we must first learn to go to God in faith as our place of safety and refuge. We are insufficient. If we stand on our own our trials will tear us apart.
As you reflect on God as your refuge, consider this challenge from Elizabeth Elliot:
Preserve us O God, in you we take refuge.