Afer saving his nation by a daring feat with a sling and becoming a popular captain in the army, after soothing the king with his musical talent and marrying into the roay family, this once-celebrated hero has been forced to flee his home following four attempts on his life. The cause? A king’s jealousy! And as if that weren’t enough, someone has betrayed his hiding place. Becoming desperate, he took refuge with his bitter enemy: the king of the Philistines. What a fiasco! Now he has barely escaped wit his life to this lonely cave, and his frustration is at flood level.
There is only one thing to do. After filling and lighting a tiny clay lamp, he reaches into the front of his tunic. Yes, there is the writing case. A small bottle of water and a cake of ink, a reed pen, a scrap of parchment, and he is ready.
With my voice unto the Lord will I cry.
With my voice unto the Lord will I plead.
I will pour out before Him my complaint.
My distress I will show to Him…
Look on my right side! No one knows me!
I have no more refuge; no one cares for my soul.
I have cried unto You, O Lord; I have said,
“You are my refuge, and my portion in the land of the living…”
Bring my soul out of prison to give thanks unto Your name.
The righteous will surround me because You will reward me!
What did you do the last time your emotional barometer read “Storm warning”? Did you let loose a tidal wave of frustration at the nearest friend? Did you scorch your sibling with a lightning bolt of anger? Perhaps a typhoon of passion blew you off course, or you became encased in an iceberg of fear.
Do you have a storm shelter? David, the fugitive who later became king, had a refuge from his emotional hurricanes. He took his needs straight to God.
Now don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t just some pious exercise. David was upset, afraid, and angry, and he “told it like it was.” But he didn’t stop with how he felt. He went on to remind himself of God’s character, and as he did, he began to see his problems from the perspective of the King of the Universe.
The book of Psalms in the Bible is a collection of prayer-poems addressed to God. Heberew poets used a simple but powerful form: a patterning of repeated thoughts, instead of rhymes. (See lines 2 and 3 of the psalm above for an example.) They also used such familiar things as storms and stars, trees and towers, beasts and battles to draw vivid word pictures of their needs and of God’s greatness in answering those needs.
David isn’t the only one who has written this way. Recently I discovered a psalm my grandfather, John Wesley Adams, had penned in the back of his small, worn book of Psalms. In 1944, during what was probably the bleakest winter of World War II, he lived in an unheated Army barracks in southern Holland. Just across the border, Nazi Germany was fighting its last desperate battle against the Allies. Around him, people were starving, and bombs fell almost constantly. Perhaps it was at this time that he turned his attention to God’s unchanging power with the following words.
And I will give you My Peace…
The mighty deep…roareth exceedingly
But his tireless waves can never transgress My decree.
So great is My salvation to all them that fear Me.
My Peace is as sure as the boundaries of My oceans…
What is your storm? Perhaps it isn’t bombs or starvation, but it is something that is just as real and distressing to you. Why not write a letter to God about it, telling Him just how you feel? Poetic language is not essential; honesty is. God invites you to “pour out your heart before Him.” (Psalm 62:8) He is intensely interested in what you have to say, and He will answer.
One summer, I was dying to go to a youth training time with my friends. The problem was, I was about 1,000 miles away, and I had a job I couldn’t leave. I wasn’t sure what God wanted me to do, and frankly, I wasn’t ready to trust Him to make the decision for me. Choppy waves of emotions battered me about for a few days, until finally, I had had enough. I sat down, pulled out an old yellow notebook, and began to write.
To Thee only do I lift up my heart.
I give You my persistent desires,
My held-back dreams and my knotted burdens.
I give You the heavy load of thoughts
That crowd and fill my mind
Until there is no room to hold them.
On Thee, O Lord,
On Thee only do I stay my heart.
I rest my soul on Your unending faithfulness,
Your perfect answers and Your sturdy Word.
I remember: Your plans are heavy with good!
They are crowded and filled with love
My cup overflows!
And you know what? After I turned my attention to God and remembered His love for me, I was able to ask Him to take control. He quieted my heart, and even made a way for me to go.
God doesn’t always answer so quickly, nor does He always grant my wishes. But much better than that, He always listens, and is always available to walk with me through whatever storms are necessary to my development. I have found that emotional storms are a blessing! Honest! They remind me, in a way that fair weather does not, that I need a refuge, and that that refuge is God.
So, the next time your emotional barometer drops, the wind picks up, and thunder rumbles in the distance, run for refuge to the One who says to your storms, “Peace, be still!”