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Shelter from the Storm, or Shelter in the Storm? (A Lesson from Psalm 55)

“Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest!” (Psalm 55:6-8) David wanted to run away from all his troubles. He was betrayed by a friend (possibly Ahitophel in 2 Samuel 17:1-4). He was stabbed in the back by an equal, a friend, a companion (possibly Absalom in 2 Samuel 15:1-6). They troubled David greatly. One gets the sense that David is on an emotional roller coaster as he writes this Psalm. He faces “speech … as smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart.” David is in deep distress, pained by anxiety and swimming in trouble; so, he considers flying away from it all in order to escape from the treachery. He wants to opt out. He wants to find a shelter from the storm.

When facing great stress and difficulty, this is our first and most popular option as well. “I will run away. I will quit. Let me find shelter from this storm!” Our shelter could be any thing: Jack Daniels, a fine burgundy, perhaps a few dozen Snickers, a TV binge, mindless activity, a pleasure cruise, or a trip to that cabin in the mountains. We are skilled at inventing shelters from the storm. David was tempted to do the same.

But David, facing anxiety and betrayal, does not opt out; he opts in. He runs to God as his shelter in the storm, and his first resort is prayer. Crying out to God in his distress, David prays through his restlessness and agony and fully expresses his pain and anger in God’s presence. He prays at evening, morning and noon, complaining and moaning, pouring out his anger, bitterness and confusion in prayer directly to God. He is brutally honest before the Almighty as he seeks to find a shelter in the storm.

David vacillates, it seems, between trust and rest that it can provide and his desire to see these evil men crushed. “The LORD will save me,” he reminds himself. “He hears my voice.” Then, “God will give ear and humble them,” he assures himself. “God…will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days.” But as he wrestles with the wickedness and injustice of it all, David clings to a promise: “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” It almost seems that David knows where to find rest—he has the shelter fully furnished for him—but he is having trouble (due to the stress, betrayal and injustice) of actually resting there.

Isn’t that our story as well? As we face stress and injustice, the evils of the world and the betrayal of friends, we agonize for some comfort and long for some justice. Failing that, we seek rest on our own. God’s love, faithfulness, promises, and sovereignty provide a shelter for us in the midst of the storm, but we either choose to flee to our own shelters or struggle to rest in the provision of God.

Don’t run from your troubles; face them with the promises of your faithful God. Run to Him, not from Him. Fully express yourself to God. He knows your anger, bitterness and hurt already. Be yourself before the presence of the awesome God who knows, who cares and who saves. Trust Him in the storm.

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