My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
Call: Out of the depths I have cried to You.
Response: O Lord, hear my voice.
Call: With my whole heart I want to praise You.
Response: O Lord, hear my voice.
Call: If you, Lord, should mark iniquities:
Response: Who could stand? who could stand?
I will wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word do I hope.
Reflection on trust:
The following reflection is excerpted and adapted from “Can God Be Trusted?” by Neal Plantinga. The original article can be found here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1998/june15/8t7045.html
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge. (Ps. 91:4, NRSV)
Children often have a unique sense of security in the nest — a sense that they are loved, protected, and perfectly safe. They know that somebody else is in charge, somebody big and strong and experienced. Adults no longer have this feeling, and we miss it.
We, too, need to be sheltered, warmed, embraced. Some of us aren’t sure what we’re doing in grad school or where we’re going with work. Some of us feel unspeakably alone. Others have been betrayed. Some have been staggered by a report that has just come back from a pathology lab. Some are simply high-tension human beings, strung tight as piano wire.
To all such folk, the psalmist speaks a word of comfort. It is one of the great themes of the Scriptures: God is our shelter. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge.
The image here is of a bird that senses the approach of a predator and instinctively spreads out its wings like a canopy. Then the fledglings scuttle underneath for shelter. The point is that God is our shelter when the winds begin to howl; under God’s providence we are defended, protected, perfectly safe—someone else is in charge—someone big, strong, and experienced. God spreads his wings over us. It’s a picture that offers sublime comfort.
Still, a disturbing question pricks us. How true is the picture of a sheltering God? How secure are we in the nest?
We hear about ISIS and Boko Haram, about terrorist attacks and massacres in Nigeria, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Paris, Cameroon. Psalm 91 says, “I shall not fear the grenade that flies by day.” Could a believer say this in Syria?
Or we learn that a loved one has received a terrible diagnosis. The doctors talk about treatments and research and making her as comfortable as possible. But all we can think is that she will not see her children graduate or get married, that her parents will bury a child.
Whatever happened to the wings of God? Can you get brain cancer under those wings? Get molested by a family member? Can you find, suddenly one day, that everything in your life seems to be cascading out of control?
Psalm 91 says no evil shall befall us. How can we understand this when it sometimes seems like God has forsaken us? When we have cashed out some of the poetry and then added in the witness of the rest of Scripture, what we get, I believe, is the conclusion that no final evil shall befall us. We know that we can believe God with all our heart and yet have our heart broken. Everyone in the church knows this. And yet, generation after generation of bruised saints have known something else and spoken of it. In the mystery of faith, we find a hand on us in the darkness, a voice that calls our name, and the sheer certainty that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God—not for this life and not for the life to come.
We are like fledglings who scuttle under the wings of their parent. The forces of evil beat on those wings with everything they have. When it is finished, when evil has done its worst, those wings are all bloodied and busted and hanging at wrong angles. And in all the commotion, we too get roughed up quite a lot.
But we are all right, because those wings have never folded. They are spread out to be wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. And when the feathers quit flying, we peep out and discover that we have been in the only place that was not leveled. This is the one who protects us from final evil, now and in the life to come—the life in which, at last, it is safe for God to fold his wings.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge. It’s not a simple truth, but it is the truth. And we ought to believe it with everything that is in us.
God, we seek refuge in you.
When we feel like we are not enough – not good enough or capable enough or confident enough or eloquent enough – remind us that your grace is sufficient, and that your power is made perfect in our weakness. And remind us that no matter how the world sees us, we are precious and honored and dearly beloved in your sight.
When we hear about great violence and sorrow in the world and in our communities and in our own lives, about broken relationships and disease and so many other things, stay near us. Remind us, when we are battered and bruised, that you speak even in the darkness.
Father, help us to trust. Thank you for giving yourself up for us; for loving us more than we can imagine; for spreading your wings to keep us safe through the storm. Thank you that you are in charge, and that under your care, we are protected. We love you. Amen.
God go before you to lead you, God go behind you to protect you, God go beneath you to support you, God go beside you to befriend you. Do not be afraid. May the blessing of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be upon you. Do not be afraid. Amen.