As I walked back into my house, I could immediately sense that something was not right. No one else was home to my knowledge, and no one was due to be home, but I could hear an unfamiliar noise in my house. Perhaps someone had come home unexpectedly?

No one else was home, but I could hear an unfamiliar noise in my house.

“Hello?” I cautiously called out, hearing the tremble in my voice. There was no response. My heart beat faster.

I walked very apprehensively around the corner and saw a vase full of flowers knocked over—colourful flowers strewn all over the table and water dripping onto the floor. Now my brain was whirling, and I could feel myself sweating.

Was I getting robbed right at this moment? Was I safe? I surveyed the area even more cautiously and clawed my phone from my pocket with a trembling hand, ready to call the police. I heard the strange noise again, which unfortunately confirmed my suspicion—whoever knocked over the vase was still present.

Taking a deep breath, I shot up a super quick prayer for protection and rounded another corner, following the noise. What on earth was going on? Why didn’t there appear to be any immediate signs of a break-in?

I narrowed the source of the noise—it was coming from behind our sofa—and crept towards it, hardly daring to breathe. I had to know who was there and get them out of my house immediately! Then, as I rounded the corner, something dark and seemingly wide launched itself at me. I am not usually a screamer, but I screamed like there was no tomorrow, surprising even myself with the volume!

I rolled onto the floor in the foetal position with my head tucked under my arms, hoping that it would keep me safe from the inevitable attack. But no attack came. Instead, I heard a meep meeping sound. As my eyes adjusted, I realised that my assailant was just a bird! It was a magpie-lark (or mudlark)—one of those black and white birds that look like a small version of a magpie. Yes, my assailant was 20cm tall! The poor bird had become disoriented from crashing into my windows trying to escape As I watched, it tried again, making a loud scrapping sound on the glass with its beak and claws.

My fear instantly turned to concern. How could I get the poor bird safely outside and away from me and my house? I slowly crawled across the floor and opened the door as wide as possible to provide a safe bird exit, then tried to shoo it out, flapping my arms around like an aerobics instructor. After a few more attempts at the window, it got the message and flew safely out the door. Back into the familiarity of the great outdoors. Praise God.

It was a fairly minor scare and, after the fact, I have been able to look back and laugh at how terrified I was of a bird that is smaller than a lunchbox. But not knowing what it was at the time made me terrified.

Afterwards, as I was diligently cleaning up the many little deposits that the bird left as a gift, I was reminded of what it says in Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its water roars and foams and the mountains quake with its turmoil. (vv1-3; CSB)

I am so very thankful that we can pray to our God who is our refuge and strength—a helper who is not sometimes found in times of trouble, or when it suits him; but is always there in ‘times of trouble’. What a relief and gift we have been given in that! We can pray to God wherever and whenever we like. He loves us and cares for us deeply and there is such a vast and deep peace to be found in that. We can be so thankful for God’s provision. God Himself is a strength for His people. This is something that’s easy to forget. God does not look down on us from afar; like some might imagine that a distant, superior King does as he peruses his Kingdom. Instead, He is a very present help.

God is always there in ‘times of trouble’. What a relief and gift.

God is a real refuge, strength, and helper. We do not need to fear even if ‘the waters roar’; as believers in Jesus, we know how the story ends. This can give us the ultimate assurance, wisdom and understanding.

Of course, this does not mean that we never have a reason to be nervous, sad, or uncomfortable. Rather, it means that we have the assurance that our hope is secure, and our permanent home will be to dwell with God in Heaven. May we all hold on tightly to Exodus 15:2 and live lives that reflect this:

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.