“Certainly the LORD does not forsake his people; he does not abandon the nation that belongs to him. 15 For justice will prevail, and all the morally upright will be vindicated. 16 Who will rise up to defend me against the wicked? Who will stand up for me against the evildoers? 17 If the LORD had not helped me, I would have laid down in the silence of death. 18 If I say, “My foot is slipping,” your loyal love, O LORD, supports me. 19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. 21 They conspire against the blameless, and condemn to death the innocent. 22 But the LORD will protect me, and my God will shelter me.”
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-15
“Whoever goes to the Lord for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, 2 can say to him, “You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in you I trust.” 3 He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers and from all deadly diseases. 4 He will cover you with his wings; you will be safe in his care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you.5 You need not fear any dangers at night or sudden attacks during the day 6 or the plagues that strike in the dark or the evils that kill in daylight. 14 God says, “I will save those who love me and will protect those who acknowledge me as Lord.15 When they call to me, I will answer them; when they are in trouble, I will be with them. I will rescue them and honor them.”
When I was in middle school, I remember well people who surrounded me and bullied me. Knife fights on Fridays were to be avoided and you did not want to look at anyone the wrong way, lest they think that you were judging them and want to fight you. The bus ride to and from school was where I tried my first earnest petitions for God’s protection. “God, please keep me safe. Do not let these people beat me up”. “Protect me”. I thought if I refused to fight and was kind to them that they would leave me alone. Not so much. Insecure people thrive on intimidating others. But our God is bigger.
Back then He used friends and family to stand in the gap to protect me. I was a bookworm as a kid, quiet and shy. Definitely not a fighter. I remember being so thankful that my two older brothers had my back. I was not alone. Ultimately, though, my brothers could not be there for every scuffle. When perpetrators sought to harm me, God defended me and made a way out. When my heart was filled with fear, God was my covering and my Protector.
If I thought the trauma from childhood was bad, it was a walk in the park compared to what lie ahead. Cleaving to my God when being bullied, God used me to protect my children from harm, and from those who wanted to control or force their way in. God’s protection is stronger than any other, but sometimes we have to walk through the fire to appreciate it.
Somewhere along this road in life we will encounter people who seek to harm us. Maybe it is jealousy, or they want what we have. Maybe they think they have a right to be in our life, despite their inability to respect our boundaries. Maybe they persist because they truly believe they have a right to.
As we seek refuge in our God, we also walk in wisdom. Walking at night alone and expecting protection is careless. Placing healthy boundaries in our lives can be a source of protection, but is not where our hope for deliverance rests. Sometimes we are presented with challenges that we did not seek out or place ourselves in. It is then that our God will rise up and defend us. Like the Israelites, that deliverance might hurt. It will not be easy, but He will carry us through it.
As we hide in the eye of the storm and watch our God fight for us, we might need to make sure we have let go of the anxiety and fear that were our companions when we were harassed. Forgiving people for inflicting harm also frees us to revel in the joy of the LORD and to be free from the fear of man. Compassion for the oppressor surprises us as we let go of any right we feel we have to become embittered for harm we suffered. Forgiveness does not mean, however, that we permit open access to people who think they deserve it. Walking in wisdom means we have boundaries in place to test the trustworthiness of those who want to be in our lives. Jacob and Esau forgave one another but they did not dwell near one another.
Good old fashioned respect and apologies go a long way in mending relationships, but boundaries are perfectly acceptable and needed to protect us when people have violated us and our trust. Bullies were not just in the middle school play yard. And they are not always people. We can be bullied and pressured by life’s hardships, until we run to our Shelter.
A job, a person, an entity or a court system are not our Savior – they might be tools God uses to protect us, but God is the One doing the protecting. When we come to know Him as our Deliverer, Defender and Protector, we trust Him and are able to help others do the same as our lives are a testimony of His grace and provision. He is faithful and loves to come to the aid of His people who cry out. He did not promise us that there would not be surging waters and roaring fires, but He did promise to carry us through it all. What an awesome, faithful God!
Lord, help us to trust in You and Your deliverance. We worship You, our Covering, our Jehovah Nissi, our Protector – Jehovah Roi! Thank you for Your mighty salvation! We look to You alone!