There are times in our lives when we feel like running away. I still remember when I was an elementary school kid and one of the bullies came after me during a recess football game. I definitely felt like running away…and I did! As fast as I could go.
As I’ve grown older, however, I’ve encountered much more threatening things that make me and others want to run away. I’ve seen a father of four crushed by lack of work. I’ve seen parents helplessly lose a child they love. I’ve seen a single mom struggle to parent teenage children in rebellion. I’ve seen students feeling overwhelmed by confusing decisions. I’ve seen churches challenged by dire situations. These things and more can make us feel like running away.
In Psalm 11, we hear of a similar situation. The writer is struggling with the advice from a friend to simply run away:
How can you say to me, ‘Flee like a bird to your mountain; for look, the wicked bend their bows…When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ (Psalm 11:1-3)
Things are apparently coming apart all around him: “the foundations are being destroyed.” We do not know the exact situation but it is probably not difficult for us to picture situations where it would seem like things are coming apart all around us. Even if we are not experiencing that presently, we probably have in the past.
In this place of tension, however, the writer takes us back to the foundations that cannot be destroyed:
The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne…the Lord is righteous, He loves justice; the upright will see His face. (Psalm 11:4, 7)
When we feel like running away we must remember the Lord. ‘Sure,’ you might say to yourself, ‘a pastor would say that. But how does that help me?’ Great question.
When we remember the Lord, it alters our perspective on our situation. We realize that we are not alone. We begin to consider the fact that although our situation seems insurmountable – enough to make us want to run away – it is not insurmountable because God can overcome anything. Our situation is temporary but He is eternal. Our situation seems overpowering, but He is truly all-powerful.
Not only does remembering the Lord change our perspective on the situation, but remembering Him also begins to change us. When we realize that God is right there within the situation, we should consider our response more thoughtfully. “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked” it says in verse 5. When we are in the midst of a relationship or circumstance that makes us feel like running away, remembering who God is will shape the way that we live in that moment. Will we respond righteously or wickedly? Remembering the Lord opens a new way.
Lastly, when we remember the Lord, He begins to change our lives. The Psalms are a chronicle of human trouble and divine intervention. Remembering that God is in His holy temple or on his eternal throne does not mean that God is sitting far off in Jerusalem somewhere. No, these royal images convey God’s total, sovereign control of our lives. He is not distant. He is not weak. The truth is that He is right now present and powerfully ruling over all. This includes our lives, even those situations that make us want to run away. When we call to Him – when we remember Him – He will begin to act.
So, do you feel like running away? We all encounter circumstances in our lives that bring us to that place. However, in that situation or relationship, we must remember the Lord. Because when we do, the psalmist says, “the upright will see His face.”