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There is a River
Written by: Martie Spurgeon
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.”
What comfort this verse can bring to the grieving parent! God is a refuge – a hiding place, a safe place. How we long for that after our world has been turned upside down! How we desire a safe place to hide. I remember after our daughter died the fear that filled my heart. Fear fills the heart of every parent who has suffered the unexpected loss of a baby. This reality becomes crystal clear: Life can change in an instant. Everything seems uncertain and unsure. This verse helps us to realize that God is there for us even when everything around us seems unsure and unstable. God is not just a refuge; oh no, it is so much more personal that that! He is our refuge if we are His.
Not only is God our refuge, He is our strength. Following the death of a baby parents are brought under times of deep distress that taxes their bodies both emotionally and physically. One morning we wake up and the biggest choice of the day is what we will have for dinner; and the suddenly we are thrown into a reality where choices we never dreamed we would have to make in our entire lives need to be made at that moment. All the decisions, all the stress and all the sadness empty us of every last drop of strength we have. Have you been there? I know I have; and as I look back years later after the death of our daughter I can see how much God was my strength. He was with me on the day that our daughter died and walked close beside me in the days that followed. He strengthened me in ways I could not even comprehend. He truly was a “help in time of trouble.”
I love how the Psalm goes on. Read the words and see how these relate to you as a grieving parent.
“ Therefore, will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea: Thought the waters thereof roar and be troubled, through the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.”
Do not these verses describe in virtual detail exactly how life seems to feel after the death of a baby? So clearly! How everything about our lives seem to feel unsure and uncertain. How the torrents of grief sweep over us!
Then, as you continue reading the tone of the Psalm completely changes:
“There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.”
Though all of our live seems to be upturned and in an upheaval following the death of our baby - when everything seems uncertain and unstable - “There is a river….”
When I think of a river I think of a quiet stream flowing peacefully over the ground and over the rocks that lie in the river bed. I think of the sun reflecting off of the moving water. I think of the many trips I took as a child into the mountains of Colorado. I would sit by the streams and listen as the water flowed gently down the mountain. I remember that as I sat there I would close my eyes, take in the sunshine. Even years later as I think back to those trips I can remember how peaceful I felt sitting there listening to the sound of the water.
Is it odd to think that the Psalmist just one verse above is talking about the earth falling apart and the mountains being carried away then in the very next verse he is talking about a river? It’s not odd at all for that is how life is when you are a child of the Heavenly Father. Yes, there is trouble and turmoil, and at times it seems that life is falling apart. However, just as real as the trials and troubles are that come into our lives there is God, who is our refuge and pulls us close to His breast and whispers to us that He loves us and that He has everything under control. When we are safe within His embrace there is a gentle river. There is peace. There is a calm that He brings to our soul.
Have you felt His embrace? Have you run to Him for refuge and strength? The Bible tells us that is what He is. He is there for us when life is falling apart. He was not absent the day your baby died; He was there and He is with you now. His arms are outstretched and within them you will find peace and rest.
I love how this Psalm ends.
“Be still, and know that I am God… The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. “
My prayer for you is that you will find in Him your refuge and peace; and that you will be still and know that His is God and He is there for you during this difficult time. If there is anything that we can do for you; please do not hesitate to call.