I don’t know about you, but the verse above, and in fact the entire 91st Psalm, is one that I’ve heard repeatedly since Covid-19 has struck. I’ve heard so many Christians turn to this Psalm as the answer as they have faced the pandemic. I’ve heard people quote this Psalm to justify not social distancing, wearing a mask, or doing anything else that health professionals have advised us to do. “Covid can’t touch us!”, they say (at least silently if not out loud). “Just listen to the promises of Psalm 91!” It’s a Psalm I’ve been rolling around in my mind often, of late, as I’ve been wondering, “Is that what this Psalm really says?”
Then the other day I happened to hear a woman on a Christian radio program discuss her life as a missionary. She, her beloved husband, and their eight children had headed to Cameroon some time ago to serve the Lord. At the time, Cameroon was a place of much violence. They knew that, but they trusted the Lord. Then, just 12 days after they arrived, as this missionary couple was traveling by car, this woman said that Psalm 91 came to her mind. She rested on the words and prayed this Psalm which told her that “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.” But then, just moments later, a bullet struck her husband dead.
Again, what in the world is Psalm 91 telling us? Is it saying that because we are Christians nothing bad will ever happen to us? Is it telling us that neither Covid, a terrorist’s bullet, nor any other calamity can touch us, because we are being protected by Almighty God? Is it telling us that we are invincible? Well, if that’s the case, why did this missionary’s husband die in such a horrible way? If that’s the case, why are there thousands of godly Christians languishing in North Korean prison camps at this very moment? If that’s the case, why does my own father, who is a Christian and loves God, have lung cancer right now? You see, if Psalm 91 is telling us that a Christian is invincible, these things just don’t add up – or do they?
For some perspective on this, I was reminded today of another Scripture, this one from the New Testament – Romans 8:28. There, the apostle Paul, who had suffered perhaps more than any other believer for his faith, says this: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Notice that this verse says “all things.” As far as I can understand the English language “all things,” means “all things.” So maybe the answer is in the original Greek language in which this was written. So, I looked at the Greek word, and sure enough, it means “all things,” both in terms of each and every thing, and all things, collectively. Yet, it was not very long after Paul wrote these words that the Romans cut off his head!
You see, in all of this, we must consider the variable of time, for in terms of the long view, in terms of eternity, in terms of the perspective from which our God always views everything, all the promises of God truly are They are all “’Yes’ in Him (1 Corinthians 1:20).”
You see, the Christian, just like anyone else in the world, is “born to trouble as the sparks fly upward (Job 5:7).” Christians get sick, Christians are murdered, and Christians find themselves in prison, sometimes simply for obeying God’s Word. Yet, in all of it, the believer is ultimately invincible. God will heal every disease, God will release every captive, and God will restore every believer perfectly one day. Nothing can ultimately rob a believer of what he or she has coming to them from the Father “Who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:6).” We who love Him can be sure that, in the end, when we look back on it all, when we see everything from the view of the One who sees all from an eternal perspective and “Who works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11),” Psalm 91, Romans 8:28, and every other promise of God, for that matter, is ultimately and eternally true.
Jesus put it this way in Luke 21:16-18: “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.” And then this from Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:19: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” But you see, it is not in this life only that we have hope, for this verse is pulled from the much longer passage that is all about the resurrection body that is God’s promise to every believer. As Jesus told Martha beside the grave of her brother Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die (whether it be from cancer, an accident of some sort, or Covid-19), yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” For you see, the Christian really is invincible because the One who is watching over them is the invincible Son of God, and the glory that every single believer shares with this Son is the glory of the cross.