By Jennie Mayes
Psalm 91:1-2; 9-16
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.
Wow. As I read these verses through several times, I struggled with them. These are verses of protection and yet too many times I don’t feel protected and those around me don’t appear protected either. How can this be?
It has been often said, “If you haven’t had hard times yet, just wait, your turn is coming.” None of us will escape hard times. None of us escape death. We face illness, job loss, grief, danger, poverty, wars, and more. Some days it seems as if our enemies are all around us. How do we know the protection of God even when “disaster does come near our tent?” I don’t know. I don’t have any easy answers.
Job’s friends in the Bible thought he somehow deserved all the tribulations that came his way. Some of the Prosperity Preachers today speak that if we put all our faith (and money) in God (and them!), that we will be blessed and have riches untold. These verses in Psalms might even seem to bolster that claim. It’s an easy equation: sin=trouble and walking with God=an easy path through life. Except, that’s not how it really works. We often see the righteous suffering.
What if these verses are not so much a promise about being protected from everything, but more a promise to be nurtured as we journey? Could God be promising to walk through these difficulties with us? We are not necessarily protected from physical harm, but we are guided through everything by our relationship with God. At the end of our journey, we have eternal protection and rest, but even in the midst of the trials and tribulations, we can rest into God and know that we will be sheltered.