Where to find refuge when life presents challenges

The Rev. Nicole Martin is executive minister at The Park Church
The Rev. Nicole Martin is executive minister at The Park Church

We are living in challenging times. It seems like everywhere we look, the people and places that were designed to be safe don’t feel that way anymore.

The school that should have advanced us held someone back instead. The job that should have been someone’s dream became the nightmare instead. The police officer who was trained to protect took someone’s life instead. Even the church that was called to bring healing has hurt someone instead.

What do you do when the safe people and places aren’t so safe anymore? How do we handle the shocking reality that things aren’t always what they should be?

In every life, we must wrestle with the fact that things don’t always turn out how we expect. If you live long enough, you will be disappointed and let down by the very ones you expected to keep you strong.

As a result of these broken expectations, we often turn to unhealthy behaviors. We quit school, give up on the job, stop trusting others, and even leave the church. We buy into the notion that if we could just stop believing, we won’t be hurt anymore. But when we leave our hurts unhealed, we leave ourselves open to hurt more people. After all, hurt people eventually hurt people.

This is where our faith comes in. When the world proves that it is broken, God still demonstrates that He has the power to heal and make us whole. Consider Psalm 91, “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him’” (Psalm 91:2, NLT).

How do we handle the let-downs of life? First, we can remember that only God is our refuge and safety. In a world that pretends to have many safety nets, God reminds us that he is the only true place of refuge. Like a baseball player who slides into home, we can run to God and know that in His presence, we are safe from anything that tries to hurt us.

Secondly, we can commit to serving God alone. The psalm refers to God as “my God,” implying an intimate connection and genuine relationship. Truthfully, it is tempting for even the strongest believer to make other gods in our lives. Yet, when we commit to serving God only, we put him first and center. Only then will we embrace the reality that he will never let us down.

Lastly, this simple verse reminds us that we can put our whole trust in God. Rather than to trust in people or money or systems or places, the scripture declares that only God is worthy of our trust and loyalty.

Nothing else in life guarantees a positive return for the investment of real trust.

This faith is not insurance against hurt. It is an investment of hope. It means putting your heart in the hands of the only one who has your best interest in mind. Even when life’s disappointments threaten to harden your heart, faith in God will keep you open to his love.

No, faith won’t make you invincible, but it will make you whole. Only then will you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to begin loving and trusting others with the love of God.

The Rev. Nicole Martin is executive minister at The Park Church.