By Diana Bridges
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
The first image that comes to my mind when reading these words is that of a superhero, impervious to the frailties of mortal life. Whether by an otherworldly constitution like Superman, a nifty manufactured suit like Iron Man, or by Spidey Senses like Spider-Man, the one who trusts in God is protected from suffering evil and harm. However, that view isn’t in sync with either human experience or the whole counsel of scripture. God is indeed a shelter from destructive forces, but in the closing verses of this psalm, promises to be with us in the trouble that arises rather than keeping us isolated from all possibility of danger..
The greatest witness to the truth of this passage is someone like Corrie ten Boom, who emerged from the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbruck to testify to all who would listen about the love and forgiveness of God. Though some might argue God didn’t keep her safe as promised, she would surely respond that her faith was nurtured and sheltered in that most unlikely of places.
We’ve all heard many stories of individuals being rescued from physical danger or even death at the very last minute. There have been a few times in my own life when I’ve suspected that my safety in a given situation might be due to the intervention of God. A greater miracle by far, however, is the rescue of a human being from hate, the protection of a soul by insulating it from the many destructive forces that are endemic to all places humans call home. The soul thus rescued is able to trust in God in every circumstance–not due to escaping peril, but by being transformed within it.
Jesus, knowing he had the option to choose physical safety for himself rather than offering his life to rescue us, chose the risk. It’s possible that we too might be asked to risk ourselves on behalf of others, but if we do, God is no less a shelter for us.