The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. —Psalm 9:9-10
UNFAIR!—a common refrain in my home. Sometimes it’s warranted, however mostly it is something shouted at any perceived injustice—one kid or the other feels they are being oppressed, persecuted unfairly. I often feel frustrated when my kids shout "Unfair!" at random things. After all, my kids know actual injustice, they have experienced unfair things up close.
In their short lives, they have volunteered to help the homeless in the US and ministered in slum communities alongside their parents overseas; they’ve watched their three-year old brother fight cancer, and they have made friends that they have then lost to childhood illness while living for months on end at a hospital campus; they’ve attended their grandfather’s funeral and learned the pain of suicide intimately and early in their life. Their lives, like all human lives, have already had a portion of unfairness, of trouble.
I often find myself dwelling on the troubles in my own life, on the trouble in my children’s life and I too want to shout "Unfair!" I often think, “what if this hadn’t happened?” or, “why does this have to happen?” It can all seems so unfair.
Recently, I was chatting with a friend as she and I were discussing the troubles of our heart. She told me her own troubles were unfair, her troubles felt so unique to her that she found them isolating, as if she was the only person who knew trouble. She knew pain and grief and she was troubled.
Troubles can cause us to feel isolated, to feel as if we are the only one who knows pain. But it’s a lie, we aren’t. In fact, by the time most people hit midlife they know trouble in some form. Whether it’s the trouble of disease, death, the loss of a child, the loss of our parents, the loss of friends or a spouse,
bankruptcy, broken marriages, addiction or mental illness, the list will continue to grow, and most people will become intimately acquainted with trouble.
We will experience times of trouble, we know that. The Bible teaches us this, the world teaches us this with every fresh heartbreak and disappointment. And that desire I have, that desire to escape trouble, that desire cannot be fulfilled by this world at all. That pain, that frustration, is a longing for heaven; the place where trouble does not exist.
When we experience pain, heaven can feel so far away. So what can we do in the painful space between here and eternity? This psalm contains a beautiful promise, a balm for our grieved and troubled soul. The Lord is our stronghold.
The Lord Himself promises that He will be our stronghold, that He is our protection and strength. Not that He will give us a safe place or send protection. He himself will be our stronghold. The Lord himself is our place of security, our place of survival. We can run to Him for shelter, and He will provide it. From my own experience, when the pain was crushing, when I didn’t know how to keep going, He provided my shelter. It was enough to get me through each pain-ridden moment.
We won’t escape the storms of this life, but we have the Lord Himself, our beautiful shelter in the storm. And that is enough.
What troubles have you experienced in the past, and how was the Lord a stronghold?
Where do you tend to look for shelter in the storm, are you running to our Lord who promises to be our stronghold?
How can you cling to the promise that He will be your stronghold?