Based on: Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength. What does this mean? God is a place to be safe from the attack of our enemies. He is a wall around us, and not only that, but he is our strength – he uses his power for our good – to crush anything that would cause us harm.
God is our refuge and strength. Was this true of her as well? Yes. God was her refuge and strength. Even though to look at her you might wonder, “Where was her refuge? Where was her strength?” She was bound to her wheelchair or to her bed – dependent on many others. She seemed vulnerable to the sickness or loneliness that attacked her. Yet, God was her refuge and strength.
She had been in a wheelchair most of her life. For many years Pastor Laper and others brought her God’s Word while her physical needs were taken care of by friends, relatives, and nursing home staff. Recently, Dick and Sarah befriended her and I could tell when I visited her and saw the way her hair was fixed and the nice clothes she was wearing that Sarah had been there. We thank God for providing her with people who cared about her. Yet those around her could not help her as her heart stopped beating. Still, God was her refuge and strength.
There’s one other problem she had. That problem was sin. She inherited this problem from her parents and her parents from their parents, and so on, all the way back to our first parents, Adam and Eve. We all have this problem called sin. It is not only the wrong things we do but is also our attitude toward God. Because of our attitude toward God we are not interested in what he has to say. God tells us not to hate, not to lie, not to ignore his Word, but we aren’t listening. We don’t realize this is a problem because so many people around us aren’t listening either. The result is that every problem, all the suffering and all the pain in this world is a result of sin – her need for a wheelchair, her problems speaking, and even her death were the consequences of a world that has followed its own ideas for many generations instead of listening to God.
We may go about our lives thinking that for the most part we are doing what God would want us to do. According to our own idea of right and wrong, we’re pretty good. But in fact, it is like looking down the road just before the sunrise. There is just enough light to see various shades of gray, but the true color of the landscape is still hidden from us. It is not until the light of God’s Word shines on our world that we see just how much we have offended the God who created us. It is then that we realize we don’t deserve any of the good things God gives us. We deserve not only the death of our body but also the death that forever separates us from God’s blessings – forever separates us from hope, joy, and happiness.
Sin and this death that lasts forever are the true enemies she faced. God was her refuge and strength. He protected her and defeated these enemies for her – just as he did for us. God sent his Son Jesus Christ to live a perfect life without sin. He listened to what God said. God took that perfect life and covered us with it. Now when God looks at us he sees no sin. Our sin – our offenses against God were given to Jesus Christ and he was punished in our place – he was separated from God’s blessings while hanging on the cross. For this reason we will not suffer the death that separates us from God’s blessings and even the death of our body here on earth will not hold us forever. God defeated sin and death for us. He is our refuge and strength.
She understood this. She knew she was infected by sin. She knew she had offended God and for that very reason her body would one day die. She struggled sometimes to make her words understood, but she clearly understood that God promised to be her refuge and strength – that she would never be separated from God’s blessings. She trusted that God would take her home to heaven one day and she looked forward to it.
When we die trusting that Jesus has rescued us from sin and death, we will not be separated from all of God’s blessings, but instead we will experience all of God’s blessings to the full. One day Jesus Christ will return to raise her body back to life along with all other believers and on that day she will be able to stand on her own two feet, without a wheelchair, and with her own clear voice she will praise her God, her refuge and strength.