Word-y Gifts for Christian Faith & Life

Ps. 121: How secure are you?

We live in a dangerous and unpredictable world. This fact is easily forgotten, especially by those of us who live in so-called “secure environments” where we rarely experience the worst of the world’s offerings. But every now and then, something penetrates our safe zones and reminds us of our creatureliness and vulnerabilities. We may be diagnosed with a terminal disease; be unfairly targeted by law enforcement or a supervisor; become a victim of violent crime, hacking, stalking, or theft; lose a loved one in death or through divorce; experience a painful rejection, sudden job loss or a friend’s betrayal; or see our prized possessions turned to rubble or ashes by tornados or fires. Fear then washes over our lives; our sense of security shaken, and we find ourselves wrestling with anxiety.

Our fears tell a story. They reveal the things that give us a (false) sense of security. Through them, we see the (misplaced) trust we tend to put in our possessions, health, education, social standing, connections, neighborhoods, and other personal qualities.

Throughout the Bible, God assures people of his presence and protection. He tells them not to be afraid but to put their trust in him and him alone (Josh 1:9; Jer. 1:8; Jn. 16:33). Through various stories, the Bible teaches that we are not to put our (absolute) trust in things or people because they are fickle (Ps. 20:6-7; Jn. 2:24-25). God alone can provide true security because he is all-powerful, all-knowing, and consistently good.  

Psalm 121 is one of the most beautiful psalms written about the security that comes from placing our trust in God. Threatened by powerful foes, the psalmist looks to the hills and asks, “where does my help come from?” He reminds himself (and us) that God, the maker of heaven and earth, does not sleep. He is ever aware of all that threatens us, and he protects us in all seasons from all kinds of dangers. He is our Defender.

We see God’s protection most starkly when things go wrong. He is the seat-belt that holds us when the car crashes; the soft landing pad that cushions the blow when we fall from a 100 ft above; the unexpected friend who shows up when the spouse walks out; the community organization that feeds and houses us after we lose the “dream job”; the power within that gives us the will to move forward when the school shooting happens in our “safe” neighborhood; the anchor that stills us when “economic forces” render our investments worthless; the hope within that makes us smile even as we stare death in the face.  When we hit rock bottom, God promises to be and is, as one pastor put it, the rock at the bottom.

No-one and nothing else on this earth can offer us that kind of security.

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