February 4th – Laura Joiner

Dear Friends,

‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’ Psalm 46:1

I’d like to remind us all of our gracious Lord’s amazing love and the unexpected ways in which He guides and cares for us through His word and the power of prayer.

RefugeJust before Christmas, I went through a stressful patch, as most of us do; I felt anxious and fearful – I was considerably unwell and found myself in a situation where people were relying on me to do certain tasks but I just didn’t have the resources or energy to carry them out and I didn’t want to let anyone down. So, as usual I prayed and asked our loving Lord to guide me and sustain me through everything I needed to do. My prayers were answered – but not in a way I expected: One evening, at a particularly stressful point, a wise Christian friend quoted the above scripture to me. At the time I thought, ‘how strange I don’t need ‘refuge’ I need courage, energy and perseverance’ (to name but a few outwardly obvious fruits of the spirit). As the days went by, however, and I claimed the scripture’s ‘refuge and strength’ in my prayers, our loving Lord began to show me the importance of these seemingly poles-apart words. Refuge has always implied to me, a need to shrink back and hide away from the challenges of life, whereas ‘strength’ seemed more positive – a force for good – moving forward, resourcefulness etc. I now realise how narrow my understanding was! God has since been teaching me steadily the true meaning of ‘refuge and strength’. As I prayed upon ‘refuge’ our Lord began to give me small windows of time in the bustle of life, to look more closely at His word, to spend more time in prayer and to be calm in His creation – It began to dawn upon me that ‘refuge’ means rest and healing, a drawing closer to Him, an invitation to shelter under His protective wings. What an epiphany! I then began to relish those times of ‘refuge’ as I knew then, that this was where His ‘strength’ would come from.

I have been so profoundly encouraged by this revelation of meaning that I felt compelled to share it with you all. How many times, do we skip over scriptures thinking we know them already? We have many wonderful words of guidance within our Bible. This lesson has taught me that each word is precious and God given; who knows what extra meaning He will reveal the next time I am drawn to Psalm 46:1?!

Love and blessings,

Laura