This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from the heart of Sister Maria (from Mozambique, imprisoned under severe circumstances; because of present danger, she uses a pseudonym), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
If you make the Most High your dwelling . . . then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. (Psalm 91:9-10)
If we fear persecution and its consequences, it simply means that we do not believe He is strong enough to see us through our times of trial.
This marvelous psalm could have been written especially for me. 'Surely, He will save me from the deadly pestilence' (v. 3).
Under those terrible conditions in prison I became desperately ill in my pregnant condition. (I was four months pregnant when I was arrested.) Two months before the baby was due to be born I thought I was going to die, as would my baby. But God instilled sympathy into a doctor's heart to have mercy on me.
He sent me to a hospital where the baby was born.
Later, when my baby became ill, he was taken away from me. My husband was allowed to take care of him for the next seven months.
Thank God, neither myself, nor my child, suffer from any ill-effects today.
'You will not fear the terror by night, nor the arrow that flies by day (v. 5).
When I was interrogated, they tried to force me to deny my Lord. A loaded gun was pointed at my chest, with my interrogator threatening to shoot me. I was shaking, but I just could not deny my Lord.
I was weak, but He was strong.
'He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge' (v. 4).
We never need to fear, whatever the circumstances--for He is with us.
The Psalmist speaks from experience--so do I--and so may you.
A moment of introspection: Jesus loves us! We know this because God's Word tells us so. Though weak, we yet belong to Him, and rely on His strength to bear us up. When persecution comes, our weakness makes us fair game for the enemy's slings and arrows--his fiery darts. But we who live in God, who dwell in the Most High (remember Acts 17:28) need not fear the enemy without. What does it mean to take up (new) residence "in the Most High"? What does it mean, to live amid God, within Him, surrounded by His presence--His strong tower (Proverbs 18:10)? It means that God's Word has come alive within us and through us. It means that we sustain a biblical worldview which permits us to see the world through the lens of God's Word--His revelation to us. It means that we are nourished (Deuteronomy 8:3b) not "by bread alone, but ... by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." Do we seek to understand our darkening world? It means we seek answers and guidance from within the wisdom of God in His Holy Writ. We know that persecution will come, that trials and tribulations will ensue for the children of God. Harm may befall us, yet even so we do not fear what man may do to us; for if we fear such harm, according to Sister Maria, we do not believe God is strong enough to see us through our times of trial.
In Luke 12:4-5, our Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples: 4 "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!" So then, though it is human to fear the unknown or to fear danger, we who follow the crucified and risen Son of God need not fear attack from anyone because of our faith in God. Our portion is to stand for the truth, within and encircled by God. Opposition may (and often does) arise. But we trust God to see us through the trials and attacks. As Christians, we need "not fear the terror by night, nor the arrow that flies by day". We don the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) and stand firmly rooted in God's Word and in the author of that word. We lift high the banner of the cross and of the open grave--of the crucified and risen Christ. Our strength is in the Lord; our victory is His and His alone. We are weak, yet strong in Christ. Sister Maria's interrogators attempted to force her to deny the Lord; because she trusted in God, she could not bring herself to make that denial. In that moment, as in the lives of many Christian witnesses, the words of abiding faith echo in the horrifying halls of affliction; when a Christian believer is tortured and yet remains faithful to God, God is given the glory. Paul's call to Christians to do everything to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) is even apropos here.
Do we think God capable of seeing us through the trials of this life? Perhaps we need a change of address. Prayerfully consider Psalm 91.
Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) "Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."