In these times of so much uncertainty, Psalm 91 continues to offer comfort and peace. In my early years as a follower of Christ, I idealistically thought the Christian life would be one of protection from pain and suffering. That perspective led to confusion and doubt when the reality of evil and the conflict with sin surfaced. Now much older and hopefully wiser, I look back and see how God used the inevitable pain and suffering associated with living in a fallen world as an opportunity for blessing rather than a curse. I have discovered that while He does not protect us from suffering, He sees us through it. And it has been in the fires of suffering that I have recognized how dependent I am upon Him.
Although God’s sheltering arms are ever-present and His refuge is a fortress from life’s harsh realities, we have this natural bent towards independence, and it is in venturing into the areas outside His shadow where we suffer most. While God is always there with outstretched arms, He does not shield us from the opportunity for growth that comes through suffering. Although I would not want to go through these past painful and trying times of suffering again, I would not take anything for the lessons learned through them and the reality of God’s love and presence amid them. Psalm 91 keenly reminds us of the source of our deepest needs, as well as our security, in an insecure world.
Jesus warned, as Christ-followers, we would ultimately face persecution. While most of us have escaped the horrific persecutions other Christians around the world have suffered, we are continually reminded of our need to keep God as our source of refuge when times of adversity threaten. Perhaps the greatest witness we have as Christians is how we react to adversity, injustice, betrayal, and other painful realities that occur in our lives. Our response rests on our faith and trust in the only One who can see us through the trial and then use it for His purposes and our good. (Romans 8:28)
The last two years across our nation have been marked with uncertainty, crises, and rampant fear. Many Christians, failing to trust God, have surrendered to the enemy. While he cannot take away our eternal heritage, he can make our present life fearful, miserable, and of little value for the kingdom of God. Suffering is intensified as we doubt God’s goodness, love, and power to use life’s painful realities for His purposes and our greater good.
In Psalm 17:7-8, King David cries out to God: “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” There were other occasions when David’s sins were the cause of his suffering, but in this passage, he was suffering through no fault of his own. That is often where we suffer most. When we know we have sinned and confess that sin, we find comfort in knowing God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness and are humbled by it. But when we suffer because of the unjust actions of others, the pain is greater, and our security and sense of control intensely threatened. It is then that we must seek the shelter of His shadow and find love and protection from that which threatens our peace and well-being. Fearful, anxious, uncertain? Run to His sheltering arms today! He stands with open arms to shelter and shield you from the enemy’s victory over you.