The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration for family, friends, and loved ones. But it can also be a very difficult time, a time of mixed emotions. On the one hand, there is the joy and happiness of the season; on the other hand, there is loss, pain, uncertainty, and insecurity. You are anxious, agitated, and apprehensive! Despite knowing that God cares and is concerned about you, that knowledge often does not ease the anxiety, agitation, and apprehension that grip the heart. In such challenging moments, there is a longing in the heart for someone reliable in whom to turn, someone who comprehensively and intimately understands the deep-seated need for certainty, security, and protection.
Deuteronomy 33:27 (NIV) introduces us to Someone who not only understands these profound fears but also possesses the power to offer protection through life’s various challenging seasons. The verse reads, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, ‘Destroy them!’ ” Herein lies a message of assurance! God is your shelter. He is your security. He is your sustainer.
Many of you may have heard the phrase “God is our refuge.” Maybe you heard it in songs, sermons, or speeches. You may even have read it on some social media posts. But how many of you take time to contemplate what that means?
“A refuge” is where one finds protection from threats to one’s life or safety. It could be a bunker for a soldier, friendly territory for a displaced citizen, or the reassuring arms of a parent for a child. A refuge is where a person finds shelter and protection from danger.
At some point or another, all of us have experienced turbulent winds of trouble that threaten our security. You may feel as though the storms of life are relentlessly beating down on you. For some of you, these storms are threatening your peace, exposing you to a measure of pain. You feel unprotected, unsecured, and unsafe. In times like these, you need refuge, shelter, a place of protection. The eternal God, Jesus Christ, is that shelter to whom you can run and find safety.
There is always a tendency to seek shelter from the pressures of life by turning to family, friends, work, or other temporal things. These things may only console you for a moment. They do not give lasting security from danger, pressure, or hardship. But if you, in your season of trouble, put your trust in Jesus, you will find not only safety but lasting stability. God is more than just a shelter in stressful seasons. He is the everlasting arms beneath you and keeps you from falling.
I love the word “underneath.” When an architect designs a structure, special attention must be given to what is “underneath” the building. The architect must ensure that what’s “underneath” is firm and functional. Underneath communicates a message of calm assurance in my heart. Sometimes, I feel the ground beneath me slipping, leaving me unstable and uncertain about the future. Have you ever felt this way? Are you feeling like you are standing on a beach and the sand beneath your toes is being washed away? If you do, rest assured that when every earthly foundation is shifted or gone from beneath you, the everlasting arms are underneath you to give you stability. Human arms can only extend so far and embrace for so long, but the arms of the eternal God are ever-extending and they never lose their embrace. His everlasting arms extend far underneath to comfort, protect, and guide you through life’s challenging circumstances.
Sometimes, life knocks you off your feet, and you feel like you are being pulled into an abyss of despair; rest assured that the everlasting arms are underneath to bear you up. No matter how low life takes you, the everlasting arms of love will go lower. No matter how deep your pain goes, the everlasting arms of the eternal God will reach beneath your pain. What an assurance to know that life’s unfortunate circumstances cannot take you so low that God’s everlasting arms cannot reach underneath you. Wherever you may be, or whatever state you may be in, the everlasting arms are not only ever underneath you, they can drive out your enemies.
As the holiday season approaches, you may find yourself puzzled, unable to comprehend God’s providential actions in your life. While God does not always reveal His reasons for allowing you to be in trying positions, He has proven Himself through the ages that He can be trusted. You might not understand what He is doing, but you can be assured that:
• He does not cease to care for you, even when things appear to be at their very worst.
• Wherever God’s arms are, He is present and at work, accomplishing His ordained purpose.
• God’s ability to get you through this holiday season isn’t dependent on your situation but instead on who He is.
• The heart of Jesus is of unwavering pity and compassion.
• Like the Good Shepherd, He will carry every hurting sheep in the strong arms of His everlasting love, enfolding them in His divine embrace.
So regardless of where you are or how you are, be assured that you can be sheltered, you can be sustained, you can be secured through whatever storms are blowing. Remember that the ever-present God is by your side, very close to you, guaranteeing the eternal safety of all those who trust in Him. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”—Proverbs 3:5, 6.