My Refuge and My Fortress

“He who dwells in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in him I will trust'” (Psalm 91:1,2).
Last Sunday afternoon in Columbia, South Carolina, I attended the funeral of my father’s younger brother, Paul Brooks. I was asked to read Psalm 91 during the service. About a week before his death a young nurse had come into his hospital room and quoted this psalm from memory, and Uncle Paul’s family thought it was fitting for it to be read at the memorial service. He had frequently commented on the nurse’s quoting of the Psalm, and was very impressed that “she knew the whole thing by heart.” More importantly, he was greatly comforted by its simple assertion of the value of trusting God.
“God is my refuge and my fortress!” What a simple yet powerful statement. Every day we find more evidence of the evil and uncertainty of the world in which we live. Enemies abound. Natural disasters are commonplace. Disease, accident and crime kill thousands daily, and cripple many more. As James says, “what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Where do we go to find safety? We must even ask the question, “can it be found?”
The Psalmist’s answer is an emphatic “Yes!” There is security in trusting God. “Surely he shall deliver you” (Psalm 91:3). “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you” (Psalm 91:7). These bold promises must be taken less than literally, of course. Faithful soldiers are killed in battle. Good Christians become ill, suffer and die. Faith in God does not prevent all accidents, illnesses or disasters. Yet it is still true that evil does not overcome those who trust in God. The New Testament expresses it in these terms:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit?And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose?What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us??Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:1, 28, 31, 37-39).
Bad things do happen to good people. But almighty, all loving God, our Father, can preserve our eternal souls through those things, and can comfort and secure us in the midst of them. Trust in God. He is our refuge and our fortress.

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