How Far Can We Trust God?
Life always challenges our faith. What is seen, what is imagined, what the news threatens us with, can always seem more real than God, who is invisible.
We are used to relying on our 5 senses...what we can touch, taste, see, hear and smell. And then we might add what we feel, what we've experienced, what we've been told....whew. The list of input can be exhausting. Right?
It's no wonder that we feel overwhelmed at times. Anxious. Vulnerable.
Then we look at our Good Shepherd and realize we are not alone. It is not up to us to sort it all out.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." John 10:27,28
To know his voice requires familiarity, being with him, hearing him speak. That is how we grow to trust him. We allow God to reveal to us from his perspective (complete knowledge) what is true.
My dear friend, Ney Bailey, wrote this article on StartingwithGod.com, "Faith Is Not a Feeling." (And she has a great book by the same title.) In it she says, "God's Word is truer than anything we can think or feel."
I was reading Psalms 91. It is a challenging psalm, because much of what we observe runs contrary to it.
I'm writing you during a time of Covid. And we know that God does not promise that people will not die. We know we live in a world of disease and death. God promises eternal life, but does not promise that no one will die from cancer or earthquakes or Covid.
So how do we read Psalms 91? Verse 7 says that 10,000 might die around you, but not you. And verse 14 says "I will deliver him; I will protect him." Verse 13 goes even further saying, "you will tread on the lion and the adder (serpent)." It certainly sounds like nothing can harm us.
How can Psalms 91 be comforting when it sounds so false? Here's my take on it. You might disagree.
I think the entire Psalm is underlining that nothing is greater than God. Nothing is outside his power. And in the midst of this world, the wisest thing we can do is continue to trust him to our dying breath. Even while going through hardship, even while in ICU (an intensive care unit of a hospital), this is still true:
"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." v 11
"Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name." v 14
"When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him." v15
Corrie ten Boom, who endured a concentration camp during the Holocaust said, "No pit is so deep that God is not deeper still." No matter how difficult the circumstance, God, our Good Shepherd is with us.
Even verse 16 is true, "With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." Has he not promised us eternal life? Is it not true that Jesus said, "They will never perish" because he gives us eternal life?
When our first child died (stillborn, full term), a week or so later, I found myself struggling with fear at the possibility of my husband also dying. Psalms 91:9,10 was a huge comfort to me that put that to rest:
"Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place--the Most High, who is my refuge-- no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent."
The part that spoke to me, is not a promise that my husband would not die, but even if that were to happen, God would not allow it to be "evil" in my life.
Look at Psalms 91 not for results, but for its guidance in the midst of life's difficulties. It shows how to go through threatening circumstances, an invitation to trust God.
v 1 - dwell in the shelter of the Most High; abide in the shadow of the Almighty
v 3 - for he will deliver you
v 4 - he will cover you, you will find refuge, his faithfulness is a shield
v 5 - you will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow, the pestilence, the destruction, even if 10,000 fall by your side...(until your last breath, God is delivering you).
v 9 - make the Lord your dwelling place
v 11 - he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
v 14 - hold fast to him in love, know his name.
v 15 - call to him and he will answer; he will be with you in trouble; he will rescue you.
While we go through difficulties, trust his presence and protection. Nothing is outside of his control. A good friend of mine recently had emergency surgery, with a 10% chance of survival. Yet God got her through.
God is not intimidated by numbers, by odds, by circumstances. He remains our Rock, our unchanging refuge. We can go through life with fear and anxiety if we choose to. Or we can know his name.
"I will say to the Lord, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." v 2