My friend Sergio was born with a severe hearing impairment and a defective heart. When he was a six years old, his parents brought him to Florida from Mexico. They entered the United States as undocumented immigrants. After many years, his family continues to live in fear of deportation. Sergio is temporarily protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), but the government can revoke his status at any time. Nevertheless, for now, DACA is his refuge from losing everything.
The psalmist trusts God’s protection. “In you, O Lord, I take refuge.... In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me.... Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me.”
Refuge, chasah, has many interpretations in the Hebrew scriptures. A refuge is a shelter, a dwelling, a tent, a sanctuary. In a refuge, one gains strength. Sergio discovered this strength from his refuge while growing up, playing, working in the fields, and going to school. I mentored him until he graduated from high school. He earned a scholarship to study to be an auto mechanic. He hopes to be able to support his parents so they won’t have to work picking fruit and vegetables. He finds his strength to overcome the obstacles put before him by trusting in God’s refuge.
The psalmist calls on God to be a refuge with faith that God will rescue him. Like the psalmist, we can trust that the Lord who has supported us since taking us from our mother’s womb will be our rock and our fortress.
“O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction,” (Jer. 16:19, kjv) may you extend your tent around me so that I may boldly proclaim your salvation. Amen.
The readings in Jeremiah and Psalm 71 are repeated in a pair from earlier in the year (January 28—February 3). They describe the authors’ confidence that God has had plans for their lives since even before they were born. God similarly knows each one of us and has a calling on our lives. The reading in Hebrews gives us confidence in the permanence of the kingdom of God, to which we have access through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are not to take this lightly; we should worship God with due respect. In a synagogue on the sabbath, Jesus teaches a lesson about mercy. When he encounters a woman in need, he places her need above religious regulations. If religious traditions trump mercy, then our priorities are out of alignment.
Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. How do the children in your life live out God’s call on their lives?
Read Psalm 71:1-6. How do you continually praise God as your refuge?
Read Hebrews 12:18-29. How do you discern what is required of you in praising God in the new covenant?
Read Luke 13:10-17. How do you observe the sabbath now? What sabbath practice might you start that puts God’s reign into action?
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