Trouble

If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge—
then no harm will befall 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 upon 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 upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:9-1)

If God loves me so much, then why does my life suck so badly? It is odd, really, that human beings imagine that love can’t hurt. God says that “I will rescue him.” This implies a need for being rescued. If you need to be rescued, that means you’re in a bad place, whether through your poor choices, or whether through circumstances beyond your control. God doesn’t say, “I’ll never need to rescue you.” God will not protect us from being uncomfortable, unhappy, lonely, disappointed, hungry, tired, short of cash, sick, or victimized. In the same breath that he says “I will protect him” he says “I will be with him in trouble.”

When we marvel at how someone survives a disaster and comment how God protected them. But why didn’t God keep that bad thing from happening in the first place? We are impressed how God preserved the lives of everyone in the plane that crashed in the Hudson River. But why did it crash in the first place? Wouldn’t it have been easier to keep them all safe if the plane had just gone to its destination without incident?

God promised no harm, and yet every day his people suffered death and destruction. How did that work? God promised long life, but he didn’t promise we won’t die. And death is not the worst thing that can happen to us, after all. Whatever we face, what God promises is simply that he will be there with us: nothing we face do we face alone, no matter how much it hurts. And someday the resurrection is coming. By “no harm” he means that whatever happens to us happens for a good reason, not a bad one, even if we don’t—and can’t—see it.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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