Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Have you ever read a passage of scripture only to wonder how it could possibly be true? This week as I read through Psalm 91, a passage that generally offers comfort, I wondered.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
Our small church family is under attack this week. Mostly due to our twice annual prayer event, I am convinced. The week prior to and of the three nights we gather as a church body to pray for friends and loved ones has always been peppered with disaster. We have backs going out, trouble breathing, lost jobs, and sick kids on the books so far. And by sick kids, I mean overnight hospital stays and hours in emergency rooms.
It sure feels like arrows are hitting their mark. It sure feels like pestilence is stalking.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
Where, I wondered, is this promised protection? We gather to watch and pray, and it seems that rather than making headway for the Kingdom, we are falling, injured to the sidelines.
You will not fear…
It would be so nice to assume that Psalm 91 means bad stuff won’t happen. Bad things will happen to us and around us. When bad stuff happens, if we dwell in the shadow of the Almighty, we have no need to fear the outcome.
“The LORD is my refuge.”
In the holiday classic A Christmas Story, Randy’s mom outfits him for walking to school in the snow: sweater, snow suit, hats and mittens. As she winds the 10 foot scarf around his head, he mutters, “mmm hmnm mmfnm ememme.” His mother unwinds him so she can understand him, “I can’t put my arms down!” He cries. She winds him back up and sends him on his way.
Poor Randy waddles after his brother, mittens dangling, until he falls down and can’t get up.
It’s an odd analogy, I admit, but God’s covering is an insulation that protects our hearts and our minds from the damage the devil is trying to inflict. Randy could have laid in the snow for weeks protected in that get-up. His body was bundled in awkward protection, insulated from the cold.
Bodies are temporary things--vessels for transporting an eternal spirit.
When I saw the mom of the little girl who had spent the night before in the hospital sitting there at the prayer gathering, head down, eyes closed and running on empty, I swear, I heard the clash of swords in a realm we cannot see. A heavenly battle rages, but we are insulated.
If it seems dark here, it’s because we are in his shadow.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9