A few days ago we were looking at the wonder of having been adopted into God’s family. That means that I know I have a wonderful Heavenly Father. Perfect in every way! This brings that incredible sense of belonging and acceptance and also many blessings that we can now reckon on, as we travel through life. We don’t have to ‘keep in with Him’, or ‘keep Him happy’, like a slave, servant, or even as an employee. We are His beloved children and nothing can change that. Even if we walk away from Him for a while, He won’t sever the connection, as Jesus demonstrated when He told the story of the prodigal son. There is such safety in this relationship, such security!
There is also great protection. Now this is a mystery, one that causes a lot of God’s children a lot of trouble. We read Psalm 91:9-14, and feel greatly comforted, and then we hear of something very hard happening to one of God’s children, or indeed to ourselves, and we get confused. “Was I meant to take those verses literally?” Or “Have I done something wrong?” “What is happening here? Has God forgotten me?”
Well, the promises of God are for us in a fallen world, where all sorts of things are going wrong. The world is under the influence of ‘the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience’. Ephesians 2:2. How else can we explain some of the dark, dark things that go on in God’s beautiful world, and some of the madness we see all around us? The spiritual power of ‘the prince of the power of the air’ works its way out in our world in all sorts of destructive ways, politically, socially and physically.
It is in this context that the Lord promises to be with us, to help and protect us. Jesus ‘the Prince of Peace’ Himself said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you might have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. The psalmist understood this paradox too and writes at the end of Psalm 91:14,15 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with Him in trouble, I will deliver and honour him”.
Basically we wouldn’t need the protection of our heavenly Father if we lived in a perfect world where there was no trouble, or if He just cocooned us all, until He took us up to heaven. For us it is neither of those scenarios. There is trouble all around us, and God does not always helicopter us out of it, but walks through it with us. It is because of His presence – because the Almighty is with us – that we are protected.
Paul so understood this, and spells it out for us in Romans 8:35-39, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…….. No in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
Sometimes that protection is obvious. We are literally stopped from falling under a bus, so to speak. Sometimes trouble hits us, (No pun meant!!), and we have to call on the Lord for our deliverances. Sometimes those deliverances come in this life, sometimes not. I think of Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsy. Betsy died in the concentration camp, Corrie was miraculously released, for some unknown reason, shortly before the war ended. They both loved the Lord. Was one more protected than the other? I think not. Corrie found great peace when she saw the body of her beloved Betsy though the window and saw that she died with a smile on her face. The Lord had come for her, all suffering ended, but Corrie still had work to do here on earth, and was set free to do it.
The spirit that we need in times of trouble, and the faith that we need is that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who said on being threatened with the fiery furnace, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know O king, that we will not serve your gods…” Daniel 3:16,17. And guess what? There in the furnace was a fourth man who ‘looks like a son of the god’s’. God was with them in trouble, and they had the most amazing experience of deliverance. That was one to tell their friends and family!!
I believe that our thanksgiving to God, for His protection in our times of trouble, helps us to receive that revelation from the Lord that Shadrach and his friends had. As we thank the Lord in our times of struggle, or when we particularly need His protection, of whatever kind, we will ‘see’ the hand of the Lord at work for us. We will know His presence and recognise how and in what way He is showing Himself strong on our behalf. We will, like David, have a testimony to tell our friends and family, that He is indeed our ‘stronghold in times of trouble’ Psalm 9:9.