These days seem unprecedented with lock downs, toilet paper shortages, and social distancing. It seems ominous, even slightly apocalyptic. But it is nothing the world hasn’t ever seen before. There have been plagues and pestilences before. The news of the novel coronavirus, how fast it is spreading, and how many people are dying each day sounds so frightening when the media reports it.
How does anyone find comfort and peace during this time? Maybe the vice grip on your chest loosens when you know you have enough supplies stocked up for the next month (or two). Maybe the anxiety eases when you completely cut yourself off from the world to keep the virus out of your life and home. Maybe some peace sneaks in when you realize that COVID-19 acts like any other virus. It acts like the virus of the H1N1 Pandemic of 2009. Only during that pandemic millions of people died. Maybe you rest easier knowing that the fatality rate of COVID-19 is nowhere near that yet.
All of these things might contribute to temporary peace, but how do you get peace that lasts and passes all understanding? Where do you get peace that abides when the shelves of the store are empty? Or when your business has to close and you have to stay home? Psalm 91 answers these questions for us.
The psalm begins by telling us what happens when we seek refuge in the Lord: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” When we abide in the shadow of the Almighty, the promises throughout the rest of the psalm are applied to you.
Here are some of those promises.
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
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. (Psalm 91:3–10)
These are not some feel-good promises. There is nothing “name it and claim it” about them. These are the promises of a faithful Heavenly Father who cares for his children. This same Heavenly Father tells his children to cast their cares and anxieties on him because he cares for them (1 Peter 5). This is where lasting peace comes from. There is no limit. There are no guidelines for how much you can or cannot have. It’s abundant and it’s free.
These are dark times for the world. There is a letter circulating the Internet by Martin Luther which he wrote during The Black Death. My husband shared it with me the other day, and I think we would do well to follow his lead from so many years ago.
Be encouraged by the way he urged his readers to think during a time more dire and perilous than what we face now.
Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others.
Take stock, get supplies, stay home, wash your hands. Do all that is prudent and advised, but before you take your next breath, entrust your soul to God. The world is in his hands. He is the faithful Creator. He is in the heavens and he does all that he pleases (Psalm 115:3).