“I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” – Psalm 91From David:
One of the unsettling aspects of the present crisis, is that it is an unseen danger. A seen danger you can do something about – you can prepare for it or react to it. The car in front of you does something strange, you can swerve or break or honk your horn. But how do you deal with an unseen danger? How do you avoid a virus?
It’s such a difficult thing, that we are having to take massive steps to try and protect ourselves. Cleaning, isolation, homeschooling. All because we cannot see the virus. It is the fact that it is so small that we have to take such big steps. All because we are desperate to try and seize back some measure of control. In this struggle, God’s word comes to our rescue more securely than any lockdown or hand hygiene (valuable though those things are).
A couple of people have blessed me in recent days by pointing me to Psalm 91 – I think because v.6 seems so relevant – “You will not fear… the pestilence* that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague* that destroys at midday.” The theme of this psalm is the hope that the believer has in the face of unseen dangers. Unseen danger is what connects the fowler’s snare, the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day. In an age before guns, combat was hand to hand – you could see your attacker and respond to their attacks. If you were more skillful, you would win – unless an arrow came from nowhere and took you out.
What hope can we have against a danger which we cannot see? The answer is found in the faithfulness of the Lord. I love the language of “dwelling in the shelter of the Most High”, “resting in the shadow of the Almighty”.
When our children were little, we visited the Farne Islands when the Arctic Terns were nesting. Their nests lay right next to the path and, as you walked by, the parents would fly up and dive bomb your head – it hurt. It turned out, though, that they tended to attack the tallest person in a group. Bad news if you are 6’5” – good news if you are with someone who is 6’5”! So, for as long as my children stayed close to me (in my shadow) – it was alarming, but they were safe. When, though, our eldest ran ahead, he was now on his own and the birds started attacking him – until, that is, he ran back to my shadow – then he was safe.
As we face the unseen danger of Coronavirus now, or unseen dangers at any time, the psalmist encourages us to run to the Lord – to shelter in his shadow. Give it a go. Pray to him. Read Psalm 91. Then read it again. And again. Read it out loud. Listen to it on a Bible app. Let God’s word soak through you as you run to him.
*pestilence and plague are ways of describing different diseases