My wife and I once stayed in a lovely old seaside hotel with large sash windows and thick stone walls. One afternoon, a storm ripped through the region, churning up the sea and pounding our windows like angry fists on a door. Yet we were at peace. Those walls were so strong, and the hotel’s foundations so solid! While storms raged outside, our room was a refuge.
Refuge is an important theme in Scripture, starting with God Himself. “You have been a refuge for the poor,” Isaiah says of God, “a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm” (Isaiah 25:4). In addition, refuge is something God’s people were and are to provide, whether through Israel’s ancient cities of refuge (Numbers 35:6) or by offering hospitality to “foreigners” in need (Deuteronomy 10:19). These same principles can guide us today when humanitarian crises hit our world. In such times, we pray that the God of refuge would use us, His people, to help the vulnerable find safety.
The storm that hit our hotel was gone the following morning, leaving us with a calm sea and a warm sun that made the seagulls glow. It’s an image I hold on to as I think of those facing natural disasters or fleeing “ruthless” regimes (Isaiah 25:4): that the God of refuge would empower us to help them find safety now and a brighter tomorrow.