There was a moment on Sunday when I thought spring had arrived in South Dakota. It was, after all, the Spring Equinox. But then, riding my motorcycle I turned onto Highway 34 and started down from the hills. I hit the base of the hills and began riding with a 30-degree list to the right, fighting the wind that swept across the highway from the south. Turning left onto 383rd Ave., I headed back into town and the protection of its buildings.
Life can be like that sometimes. We venture out from our safe and secure places, full of hope and joy, only to be buffeted and beaten, forced back into the protection of our strongholds. I am grateful in those times to have a relationship with God. The Psalmist wrote, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” (Ps.9:9, ESV) It doesn’t matter what the oppression or troubled times are, the Lord is a stronghold. God has not forsaken those who seek Him (Ps.9:10) – He is a mighty fortress.
Martin Luther wrote the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” in the 16th century. I’m sure for many it has been an encouragement in difficult times. Picturing God as a fortress or stronghold of protection helps me during challenges. It enhances my relationship with Him, which is what will last forever; difficulties do not. Relationships, like strongholds, need to be built, and the building requires an investment of time and effort. Reading the stories of God’s faithfulness to His people in the Bible builds my trust and increases my relationship with Him.
As for His side of the relationship, it never changes because God does not change. He loves us in a way that neither increases nor decreases. God cannot love you any more or less than He does right now. That seems like a stronghold worth spending time in, no matter which way the wind blows or what day of the year it is.
This story was first published in the True Dakotan on March 23, 2022.