1-2 I look up to the mountains;
does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
3-4 He won’t let you stumble,
your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
Guardian will never doze or sleep.
5-6 God’s your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.
7-8 God guards you from every evil,Psalm 121 (The Message)
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.
Two weeks ago I attended four funerals/visitations. Two were dear cousins of my father, “up there” in years and had been sick for awhile. For one of them, Psalm 121 was the focus of the message given, which happened to be not only her favorite Psalm, but was also read at her parents’ funerals many years ago.The pastor focused on how our life is a journey with challenges and blessings. Thinking about the Israelites in Biblical times, they often traveled on foot for many miles and days and nights. Fatigue, stressors along the way (safety and need for provisions) would sometimes lead to illnesses. Eugene Peterson interprets verse six in this Psalm as follows:
“And a person traveling for a long distance on foot, under the pressures of fatigue and anxiety can become emotionally ill, which was described by ancient writers as moonstroke.”
The point of the pastor’s message was about how God is with us on this journey called life. He is our protector, our guard, who keeps us from evil, the heat of the day, and fatigue and emotional turmoil of the night. He guards our very lives.
Yet how can this be true when evil acts lead to death? Sure, my two cousins had lived long lives with many blessings (happiness), joys and life’s challenges. But the other two funerals I attended (actually a double funeral) were of a husband and wife who were murdered by their daughter’s estranged live-in boyfriend. Murder is evil. Taking innocent lives all because he promised her he would kill her parents and her if she ever left him. And she left him – escaping to a safe house after his horrific abuse.
Where is God in all of this? Why does God allow such horrible things to happen? Such common questions we ask ourselves. We know there are no easy answers here.
Yet, through it all, God is with us. He is with those who have died, taking them into the eternal safety of his arms and into his home in heaven. Each of these four trusted God in his protection and in bringing them health. In heaven they are disease-free and pain-free!
For the family and friends still on this earth, there is grieving in the loss of being separated from our loved ones. Yet, there is hope of a reunion to come. God’s word is true! “God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.” God does not desert us, leaving us to defend ourselves. And the coolest thing of all is that Jesus has defeated sin, death and the evil one!!
With Easter nearing, as we remember how the disciples and followers of Jesus grieved when Jesus died on the cross, always remember that Jesus rose up from the dead on the third day. May the following scripture remind us that our future is secure because of all that Jesus Christ has done for us. Believe it and receive it!!
“Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”Revelation 1:4b-6