This morning I was encouraged as I read Psalm 91 in the Bible. The book of Psalms contains songs, prayers, and poetry proclaiming the magnificence of God along with our need for him. It beautifully describes how God created and reigns over the universe and yet wants us to know him intimately as loving children. Psalms passionately expresses the brokenness, the despair, and the joy of our humanity. Then it points us to God—the source of all our good, the solace for our pain, and the salvation for our souls.
Psalm 91 speaks of dwelling in the sheltering shadow of Almighty God. It stood out to me because amidst the stress of the pandemic, social unrest, economic uncertainty, deceit, and pervasive evil of our times, many people are seeking shelter in dangerous and shady places instead of with God. They are trying to cope through self-gratification, self-harm, domestic violence, substance abuse, over spending, escapism, and denial. None of these practices will satisfy their need. Only God can. Psalm 91 beckons you to abide in God through faith by acknowledging him, calling on him, holding close to him, and trusting him.
When you do, you step out from vain ways of dealing with your brokenness and with our fallen world, and you step under his protective, restorative cover. The benefits of a saving relationship with God become a reality in your life. Psalm 91 lists several of those realities: shelter, cover, shielding, angelic protection, deliverance, rest, salvation, satisfaction, honor, and exaltation. In addition, God will be with you during trouble. You have no need to fear harm or disaster.
This is good news. Is it too good to be true? You may be asking, “What about Christians who suffer harm, know loss, or experience persecution. Why aren’t they protected?” Honestly, I don’t know completely. But I do know that even if our understanding is limited in certain situations, God is always faithful and true to his word. He will fulfill his promises, it just might be in a way or in a time that we don’t comprehend yet. Also realize that God has not promised his followers that they will not face harm, just that they will be protected in it. If you carry out Jesus’ call to deny yourself, to shine light in darkness, to pursue justice amidst corruption, and to show love instead of hatred, you are bound to encounter opposition. Jesus told his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In Psalm 91 it’s heartening that God promises deliverance to his followers. Yet it is deliverance through the evil around them, not necessarily from it. This can be hard to hear, because as humans our broken nature is to seek comfort before salvation. We ask God to bring swift justice when someone does wrong, especially when they do us wrong. Yet when we do wrong we no longer seek God’s justice; we plead for his mercy. We tend to seek temporary relief by calling on God to address the symptoms of our core problem which is sin. God doesn’t do that. Unlike us, God seeks salvation before comfort. Instead of just treating the symptoms of our sin, God wants to get rid of our terminal sin altogether. Miraculously he has provided a way to do that in Jesus. God has allowed evil to exist for a time so more people might turn to Jesus and be saved. Those that do experience God’s justice, mercy, and deliverance in progressive phases. First, they receive everlasting life through Jesus who mercifully died on their behalf to justly satisfy God’s wrath against their sin. Second, they receive Jesus’ power over sin to live rightly with God—learning from him how to love, proclaim truth, administer justice, and extend mercy even though it may involve sacrifice and suffering in this present evil age. Third, they experience the fruition of God’s justice and mercy when Jesus returns to earth to forever establish righteousness, judge unbelievers, and vanquish evil and Satan.
Amidst the stressful turbulence and moral depravity of our times, where do you dwell? Do you find rest and shelter in the shadow of Almighty God? Or do you abide in the darkness of your own making? God knows that the only way to life and peace for every person is for that person to die to their destructive way of doing things and submit to his everlasting way in Jesus. That can be a painful process, but it is worth it. You can become a child of God. As the Son of God, Jesus makes that possible. ‟No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18). Jesus even prayed that you would be one with God as he is, ‟I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message [the witness of his disciples], that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:20-23). If you trust and obey Jesus, God will save you from your sin. He will also walk with you, sustain you, and redeem any suffering and difficulty you face for good. Then in the glorious age to come he will complete his promise to deliver you and all creation from the effects of evil and restore you and it to his original, awesome design.