“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
I can still remember it like it was yesterday. The chaos, the fear, the complete and utter shock…the unthinkable had happened…September 11, 2001. It was my freshman year in college, and I had just moved to downtown Chicago to attend Moody Bible Institute. What began as a normal day quickly turned into disaster. As authorities began to evacuate many buildings in the city including our dorms, our student body joined together to pray. Psalm 46 was in our hands and on our hearts that tragic morning, and the promise within provided the hope that we desperately needed.
Like me, you probably remember very well where you were when you saw the Twin Towers crumble to the ground. Yet, more than the initial uncertainty and fear that overwhelmed me in those first few moments of that devastating day, the response to the tragedy is what stands out in my memory the most. We, as a student body, defaulted to prayer. Our first response was to grip God’s Word and to bow before our refuge and strength. There was no other option. We faced trouble, thus we ran to our Comforter.
Those moments so many years ago taught me a valuable lesson – default to prayer. When tragedy strikes unexpectedly, get on my knees. When the unimaginable presents itself as reality, get on my knees. “When sorrows like sea billows roll…..”, I have learned to run to my refuge and strength in prayer.
I attended a midnight showing of Batman last Thursday night as well and awoke early the next morning to the devastating news of the shooting. My first reaction was probably not much different than yours – shock and sadness. How could such a horrible thing have happened? Lives lost, families left heartbroken, worlds changed forever because of one man. My Twitter feed was filled with constant updates on the shooting, but what astounded me was the overwhelming response of prayer. One status after another read in so many words, “Praying for Colorado”. I couldn’t help but think, “That is exactly what we should be doing…praying, found on our knees crying out for those whose lives were changed forever that day.” I found myself pouring out my heart to the Lord, begging for His mercy and His comfort to fall heavy on the lives of the victim’s families. I found myself praying for the shooter and his family, whose name was not yet known. I found myself desperate for God to be the refuge and strength that He promises to be to so many in need of Him.
These tragedies do not make sense. Try as we may to find answers to our “whys”, we simply cannot. Sin causes suffering, tremendous suffering. One thing we can be sure of is that our God promises to us as His children to be our refuge and our strength, a present help in time of trouble. Not a distant, far off help…a present help. That refuge, that strength, that help is found on our knees at His feet. Fear fades in His presence. Comfort is found in His arms. Strength is given to those who come.