“Preserve me, O God, for in You I take refuge.”
“By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him;
for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.”
1 John 3:19-20
Reading this morning, my heart saw a new application in this verse from Psalm 16. A cry not only to be protected in difficulty or held together through heartache, but, “O God, preserve me as Yours.”
For the times when I want to follow consistently, to live a life marked with righteousness and worthy of Christ’s gospel, but feel so aware of my failures. When, as the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7, I do not do the good that I want, but rather I do what I hate. Those moments when my heart condemns me, when my iniquities seem more than the hairs of my head and I feel helpless to overcome (Psalm 40:12).
And then there are the seasons when I struggle to feel much of anything…when numbness seems to pervade my spirit and I feel as Job did, “Behold, I go forward, but [God] is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive Him; on the left hand when He is working, I do not behold Him; He turns to the right hand, but I do not see Him” (Job 23:8-9).
Yet it is in this same passage in Job – in the next line, even – where we can see hope break through: “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (Job 23:10).
Because our God still sees us. Even if we can’t perceive Him, He is at work, for our good and His glory. And He is still here, even if we feel trapped in condemnation. Then – even and especially in these times – we can take refuge in our God. The One who died for us. The One who has remade and is remaking us. Who has saved and is saving and will save – because He will never lose one of His own. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).
We can come before our God, asking Him to preserve us in His love. To preserve us in His life. To preserve us in salvation and in the hope – the confident, steadfast hope, grounded in His unchanging word and absolute promise – that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). Every space within us filled with light. No crevice overlooked. All filled with all the goodness and glory and fullness of Christ, our Savior God who fills all in all.
We take refuge whenever our heart condemns us, because our God is greater than our heart and “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” For God has done what the law could not do – through His Son, He made a way to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (Romans 8:1-3, 1 John 1:9).
So we can say, in humility and faith, in brokenness and thankful praise, “Preserve me, O God, for in You I take refuge.”
“I have set the LORD always before me;
because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let Your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence there is fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”