Psalm 91 begins with this message of hope: “He who dwells in the shelter of The Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” These words can infuse you with faith and give you the assurance you need in uncertain times. No insurance company, bank or government can cover you like the “Almighty.” You can have exceptional expectations when you pray. You don’t have to be just another statistic. Expect to be an outlier, not a statistic. Have an audacious faith to believe God for good things.
When David faced Goliath, he recalled the time a lion carried off one of his family’s sheep. David struck it and rescued the sheep from the lion’s mouth. The same happened when a bear tried to take his sheep. David told King Saul that just as God delivered him from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, God would deliver him from Goliath… and God did!
Just like David, what we rehearse we reinforce. If we constantly think about something negative, something evil, or something bad from our past, we reinforce that. If we rehearse fears we may get from the 24/7 news, we will reinforce that. But, if we rehearse the goodness of God, the Word of God, and the things God has done for us, we will reinforce and strengthen our faith in tough times. Did God help us through September 11? Did God see us through the hurricanes? Did God walk us through the Great Recession? Did God help us through the Gulf Oil Spill? Did God allow us to survive the Swine Flu that hit in 2008 and 2009? When we recall what God has seen us through, we are strengthened in our faith.
What does it mean to rest in the shadow of the Almighty? Where is this rest? Where is this peace? We talk about peace at church. We tell others they need it. We pretend we have it. But when all is said and done, there is more said than done. How do we get it? Forget world peace for a moment. Where is the peace we long for in our innermost beings? Most find it easier to talk about peace when they have a good job, family members are in good health, and the bills are all paid. But there is a difference between good times and peace.
Horatio Spafford knew all about life’s troubles. He was an attorney and real estate investor who lost a fortune in the great Chicago fire of 1871. Then, his four-year-old son died of scarlet fever. His family took it hard. Thinking a vacation would do them some good, he sent his wife and four daughters on a ship to England, planning to join them in a few weeks. However, while crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the ship sank. More than 200 people lost their lives, including all four of Horatio Spafford’s precious daughters. His wife, Anna, survived the tragedy. Upon arriving in England, she sent a telegram to her husband that began: “Saved alone. What shall I do?” Horatio immediately set sail for England. At one point during his voyage, the captain of the ship let Horatio know that they were now passing over the spot where the shipwreck had occurred. As Horatio thought about his daughters, words of comfort and hope filled his heart and mind. His words have been sung in churches for over a hundred years:
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Where did Horatio find such peace? Perhaps he found peace when he thought about heaven. Perhaps he found peace when he thought about a glorious place where all four of his daughters were; a place where there is no more dying, no more crying, no more sickness and no more pain. Perhaps he found peace when he realized his daughters were now safe and sound in the arms of the Prince of Peace. Perhaps it’s time we cast our cares unto those same loving arms.
Pastor Steve Vaggalis is Lead Pastor of Destiny Worship Center, with campuses in Miramar Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, Freeport and Panama City Beach, FL.