Can Caregivers Find Comfort in Psalm 91?

comfortIt’s been a few weeks since I last wrote about Psalm 91 and the caregiver. In the intervening time, I’ve run a marathon, taken a marathon car trip (from Holbrook, to San Diego, to Holbrook, and then Tulsa, and finally to Palmer, Alaska). I have also taken on a different kind of caregiver role—this time as granny to my sweet grandson and helper to my daughter and son-in-law.

In the first two installments, I shared what I’ve learned about God’s protection from the evil one’s lies and attempts to draw us into the pit of despair. I’ve come to understand that Psalm 91 doesn’t promise to keep us from bad things—it promises to protect us from our human reaction to bad things.

Psalm 91 promises to protect us from our human, knee-jerk reaction to bad things. Click To Tweet

What About Those Thousands?

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

The ‘it’ in the third line refers to the plague in verse 6. God has me covered in mind-protection—even if I get sick, or the ones I love go through disasters. All around me, those who reject God will stumble and fall (and I will join them if I keep my eyes focused on myself and not on God).

The world has plenty of examples of what happens when an individual rejects God’s sovereignty—people suffer from the consequences of their sinful actions all the time. But because I chose to accept God’s protection and right to rule my life, I’d like to think that I make better choices in the here and now and therefore don’t have to suffer so many consequences.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t stand above anyone gloating and puffing myself up (God never asks us to do that). Practicing God’s sovereignty in my life takes a constant turning of my self over to God and a humble spirit (I tend to think I know it all).

But Do We Get to Skip the Bad Stuff?

God doesn't promise us a charmed life, he promises us comfort FOR life. http://wp.me/p2UZoK-1GdI have seen Christians go through difficult times and react one of two ways. They might believe that God wants to punish them for something that they did. When Pedro received his cancer diagnosis, a local pastor insinuated that if Pedro just confessed, the cancer would go away. God doesn’t work that way (and the pastor’s words brought no comfort).

The other reaction involves anger at God for not keeping his word because in Psalm 91 it appears that God promises a ‘Get out of Trials Free Card.’ I don’t think that God promises that we get to skip the trials of life.

After all, Jesus said in John 16:33

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

I Still Get Comfort from Psalm 91

I believe that when we study the Bible, we should not just read the words, but that we should look for the context and the application as well. In the Amplified version, a footnote for Psalm 91 refers the reader to Exodus 15:26, and states that the “wonderful promises of this chapter are dependent upon one’s meeting the conditions stated in these first two verses.”

Exodus and Psalm 91, both written by Old Testament authors, were written for specific people during specific circumstances. The words of Exodus record God’s instructions for the Children of Israel (and it’s no coincidence that they are called ‘children’). The NIV translation implies in a footnote that the ‘he’ refers to the king. Therefore, we have some idea as to the specific audience.

The application comes when we realize two things as well. First, we need to dwell with God and give control to him. Second, we serve a powerful God who has proved faithful in the past and will continue to provide for us in the future. Once again, we don’t get to choose what that looks like.

I find comfort in the fact that my powerful and mighty God can prevent me from harm—if the situation calls for that. If harm befalls me, well, I know that God loves me and will help me through.

Applications for Caregivers

  1. Find comfort in reading about the power of God.
  2. Don’t blame God when disaster befalls you—we live in a sinful world.
  3. God doesn’t make people sick in order to punish them (punishment comes at the final judgment—things that happen now just happen because of sin).

Are there any promises in the Bible that make YOU mad?

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • I don’t usually do a book review for Inspire Me Mondays, but this one had some unexpected spiritual truths.

    There are a few occasions in the Bible of God giving illness as a chastisement, but that’s not always the case and certainly not where a pastor’s counsel should stop. There are many reasons God allows multiple trials in our lives along the way, the best of which is that it can be used to glorify Him (John 11:4). I am so glad that whatever God allows, we can go to Him for grace to deal with it and comfort through it.

    • I loved your book review, Barbara :).

  • “If harm befalls me, well, I know that God loves me and will help me through.” This is often the very thing we need to hear. It’s so difficult when someone is blamed for their own illness if that’s not the case. Regardless of the why, we know trust that God will remain with us. Thanks for sharing these hard truths with us, Anita. They are often the most difficult questions to answer.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Lisa :). You’re right, I don’t know that we should even attempt to answer those difficult questions for someone else–it seems like the sort of thing that the Holy Spirit must answer (and he may or may not use our mouth).

  • Tara Ulrich

    Amen! It always is frustrating to me when pastors bring words that they think will bring comfort, but they don’t even come close. I think it’s better to err on the side of grace. Great post friend! I’m in the 54 spot this week.

    • I’m learning that it’s just better to show up and be a presence–it’s easier to avoid keeping my foot out of my mouth!

  • Mary Hood

    Thank you for this.. our faith has little to do with the circumstances and trials of life. Jesus promised we would have them. Blessed and comforted by your words. #97.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Mary! You are so right–faith should never depend on circumstances!

  • Amanda Farmer

    Just read this scripture today in reference to praying for my nieces and nephews. I joined a group of women praying for our prodigals. The leader had this wonderful idea of rather than focusing on they problems to focus on the attributes of God.She provided scriptures for many of his attributes which i have been praying through claiming those attributes for our children. It has been such a blessing to me. I may have to write them sometime.

  • I’m just getting around to reading this and this is really hitting home with me. My faith should not falter based on what’s going on around me or to me or with others. You are right there is so much power in the words of God!