Read Psalm 43.
It’s likely that at one point or another, you’ve encountered the words inscribed inside the base of the Statue of Liberty:
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Having grown up in America, inside this “golden door,” it’s easy to watch the journey of the refugee from a position of privilege. But read Psalm 43. And as you do, take a cue from its second verse and try to see it through a lens that clearly shows God to be the refuge and the psalmist to be the refugee. Do you identify with one more than the other? (Hint: Use process of elimination… you aren’t most like God.)
Bingo. You’re the refugee – the one in need of a refuge. We all are.
I want to be careful with that statement, because, clearly, there are many today who are fleeing physical war and hunger. They are refugees in every sense of the word and they need our help urgently. Keeping their present needs in mind though, I believe that we can still identify as refugees as described in Psalm 43 – ones in need of God’s refuge.
Our cause in the world is under fire each day from a society in which injustice and deceit so often prevail (v 1). Waiting for vindication and deliverance from this opposition is so hard that we question whether or not God will ever grant us asylum (v 2a). Our unbelief gives way to discouragement (v 2b).
And if these descriptors seem to you an epic depiction of persecution with which you are unacquainted, it’s not limited to that. Think about your own battle with sin. The sinful tendencies of our old nature and the temptations of the world are constantly besetting us, we falter time and again, and often become disheartened. We long for the refuge of heaven and wonder if we will ever find its relief.
Thankfully, God knows we need more than just a safe haven. We need help getting there.
In verse three, the tone of Psalm 43 shifts, and a sense of hope begins to grow. The sojourner is driven to his knees with a deeper and more desperate kind of refugee prayer.
“Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!”
We’re now given permission to pray for more than refuge in God; we can pray for Him to bring us to Himself. And we must. If we have a right view of ourselves, then we know that we can’t paddle over to a cruise liner to save ourselves from drowning. Because we can’t swim. At all. We need someone to fly to us, clip us into their harness, lift us from the waves, and fly us back to the safety of their helipad.
I love that you cannot read this psalm and think, “I just have to do better.” The activity here is all that of God – His light and His truth. Let them lead me. Let them bring me.
So be encouraged this week that God is more active than you will ever be. Be encouraged that He has come to you, and that He continues to pursue you. Be encouraged that He is with you, helping you, leading you, bringing you. Be encouraged that you can rest in God’s refuge now, even as you wait for the fulfillment of His eternal kingdom. Be encouraged as you desperately depend on Him.
And then, because He brought you His light and His truth in the person Jesus Christ, praise Him as both a citizen and a child…one who is safe at home.
-- Jonathan Lenning