God’s goodness is a shelter, a refuge, a hiding place.
Have you ever wanted to hide yourself?
When I was little, I had all sorts of nightmares and fears about bedtime. Every time I couldn’t get giant bugs out of my mind, I crept into my big sister’s room and tugged on her blanket, and slept on the floor next to her bed. She never turned me away. I was six and she was ten. Looking back, I’m not sure what I thought she could do about enormous insects, but her room was my hiding place.
Sometimes, I was petrified as I lay in my bed, too afraid to crawl down the hall to her room. These were the boogie man nightmares — I was afraid of the dark, afraid to make a sound, afraid to cry out. I made up little rules: lay on your back, stay under the covers, pull the blankets up to your chin. I know it sounds lame and I’m pretty sure the boogie man wouldn’t have cared about my ingenious blanket defense.
As I grew up, the boogie man morphed into a series of more nebulous fears: rejection and isolation, being victimized/unloved/dismissed/forgotten. I came up with some rules for these, too: be super friendly and try hard to be cool (a.k.a. make everyone love me); fly under the radar and don’t cause problems (a.k.a. make yourself as small as possible); out-think, out-plan, overwhelm (a.k.a. make yourself as big, smart, and strong as possible). These defenses were about as effective as the ingenious blanket defense. No matter how I tried to control things, I couldn’t make life go the way I wanted or make people treat me like I wanted to be treated.
Whether I was belly-crawling down the hall, crouching under a blanket, or being someone I’m not, I was trying to find a hiding place, some shelter, a refuge. I tried hard, but I couldn’t save myself.
When you’re anxious and fearful, what you really want to know is that you’re not alone. You want to know what Hagar knew. Hagar was Sarah’s handmaiden, given to Abram [Abraham] to have a child. When Hagar became pregnant she was hated and mistreated by Sarah, so she ran away. She really was all alone in the world. She was an outcast. She gave up and went into the wilderness because she was ready to die. God met her there and she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me” (Genesis 16:13, ESV).
The Lord is good,
a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him.
Nahum 1:7, ESV
Yahweh [the Lord, the life-giver, creator, unchangeable one, promise-keeper]
is [good, beautiful, sweet, pleasing, better, excellent],
a [stronghold, refuge, hiding place, safe place]
in the day of [adversity, affliction, anguish, distress, tribulation, trouble];
he [observes, knows intimately, acknowledges, personally experiences]
those who [take refuge, seek shelter, trust] in Him (Nahum 1:7).
Because “The Lord is good…” like Hagar, we have shelter, and we are known.
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