Wednesday of Lent I – Psalm 91:1-13

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

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—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

She looked down at her legs and shuddered and wept. In a terrifying moment her life had been turned upside down. Long angry scars crossed her knees, the trauma of an accident and the surgery which followed had left marks which would never go away entirely. She wondered if she would ever wear shorts or a swimming suit again. She was not crippled, she could walk, but her doctor warned her that it would likely be painful at times, especially when she was older.

Do you ever feel that God has got it in for you? She wasn’t doing anything bad. She was driving her car when an accident happened. It wasn’t her fault. But here she was, recovering. Why had this happened to her? Why hadn’t her God prevented it.

The devil quoted verse 12 when he had Jesus on top of the temple. The throngs of pilgrims were below in the courts of that massive edifice. Floating down like a leaf into their midst would have been a sure way to be hailed as the Messiah. He could have skipped all that suffering, the long nights, the wearying days of sick people and demoniacs. It was a shortcut right into their hearts. Jump off the temple – God promised you would not so much as stub your toe. If he sends his angels to bear you up, you will be validated as the Son of God. I can almost hear him whisper it in his ear.

Our foe likes this verse. He uses it to significant effect. My young friend went on to really question whether she had ever been a true child of God. If she had loved God a little more, would this accident not have happened. It was a perverse temptation and the whole line of thinking comes from below. She had surely struck her foot against a stone. Working the logic backward was crushing for her. Eventually she came to see that God’s love is never measured in our success or our safety. Jesus does not say take up a soft and easy chair and follow me. He offers us a cross and warns us repeatedly that we will suffer. Eleven of the twelve apostles were martyred. Today all twelve of them know this psalm in full. My friend will know it as well, when all the tears are dried, and every scar is healed.

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