6 I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
7 Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
9 from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me.
15 As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
- Psalm 17:6-9.15 NIV
This Saint Patrick's Day, most every bar and restaurant in New England was closed. Not too many people were out and about, anyway. All of us, staying home with family and waiting for this viral storm to blow over. It isn't a stretch to say we've been hiding, worried about someone getting sick and spreading it to others. Those of us older, having abused our bodies in various ways over the first half-century of life, suddenly see our own mortality laid before us.
We stay home, obsess over the news, work (if we're able) and keep the kids active and fed and distracted.
Many of these early psalms talk about the author's "enemies," the "wicked" who are looking to ruin his day. They could also be considered the panic and fear prevalent in the world today, and the virus itself. A microscopic bug that replicates and spreads quickly. In most cases it causes nothing but a mild fever and cough, but could prove fatal in the very old or people with respiratory issues. There's the rub. Where do we stand? Is our life in danger? What about our parents or grandparents?
The "wicked" is this unknown, surreal reality around us. The author of this poem faced death every day, but did what we need to do more often: look up, and keep our focus on God. How often are we praying for peace or protection or guidance?
Lately, I find myself rarely sitting down quietly, even for a few minutes, and talking to Him. Instead I focus on work, keeping the boys from fighting (along with our five year old we also have a new four year old foster – how my mother had four boys in the house at one time I have no clue), our twelve year old focused on anything but her phone, checking in on our adult children living in varying states and always, always trying not to let fear and stress beat us or our children down. They're looking to us for assurance, and for peace.
Who are we looking to for this same assurance? If we think looking at ourselves and our own strength is enough – how's that been working out?
God says to look at Him. Keep our eyes to the mountains and ask ourselves where our help comes from. The answer is always: our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and Earth. (Psalm 121: 1-2, somewhat paraphrased). When we're afraid we look to someone stronger for protection and peace. This way the fear can't take root.
God made everything, us, the planet, the coffee I'm drinking now. Could he press down and erase this virus? Sure, but why the Creator of everything does or doesn't do something isn't a question we should ask. The question is, does He love us more than any parent loves his children? Yes. Is He here with us, wrapping His arms around us, holding us as we hide in our respective caves? Yes.
He's here with us now. Look at Him. Honestly, those who have given up control of their own, small lives to the One who made everything have so much to look forward to, regardless what happens here in this blink of a lifespan. When we look up to our Father who's got nothing but the best for you and me in mind, even during these times, we should take a breath and know we'll be ok. We really will, regardless what happens in this life.
Father God, I'm sorry for letting the wicked fear of so many unknowns draw my eyes away from You. Thank you for reminded us that the small distractions in life really don't matter, and certainly don't bring us peace. Give us moments in these days of uncertainty to stop and look at You for comfort. And, give others who might not understand who You are a chance now to see how real peace comes. Amen.