I sit here in the wake of another campus shooting and feel my anxiety rising, my heart breaking, my fear consuming my thoughts. I think of all the mothers who lost their babies today. My mind shifts to my own kids, who are currently somewhere else, in the care of someone else. Are they safe? Will I hear their voices again? This is a parent’s worst nightmare.
I read today’s text wondering how I am supposed to feel safe in a world that feels increasingly dangerous. What do these promises mean when I know that there is no guarantee that the fear, terror, and destruction will not come near me or my loved ones? How do I hold tight to the hope in this psalm, not dismiss it out of hand?
These promises which the psalmist claims are not magical charms to ward off all danger. The writer tells us that the Lord will deliver [us] from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence (v. 3). This reminds us that the snare and the pestilence are out there; we aren’t promised that we will not be entrapped before we are delivered. We cling to our idea of what deliverance looks like. For us it looks like never having to worry about school shooters. But for David, deliverance did not involve a life without risk or loss. And deliverance for Jesus meant nothing less than death before resurrection.
As we walk into the unknown of this new year, we know that even though fowlers and pestilence lurk, there is no realm where God does not reign, no situation that can separate us from God’s love and care. When the promises of protection ring hollow, the comfort of companionship is good news.
What fears control your thoughts? How might deliverance from these fears look differently than you first imagined?
God of hope, remind us that you are always with us, even—and maybe most especially—in our fearful moments. Help us experience the deliverance you abundantly offer. Amen.