I've lived most of my life under the idea that I know what's happening - that I know what I'm doing. I've always felt fairly confident in myself and my abilities. I've always felt that I could make things happen - make things work - that I was pretty reliable. I guess I can just admit it - I've usually felt like I was pretty much in control. I get stuff done. I'm not a planner - I didn't plan my whole life out in detail, but I did have an idea of how I thought or wanted things to turn out and I was pretty certain that it would go that way. And part of the plan that I had in my mind was having children - I always thought that would be a part of my journey and I was good with that. I felt certain that I would have children. The uncertainty crept in when I had to raise them. From the moment the first child was born - nothing in my life would ever be certain again. I remember talking with a friend about this outside of my daughter's pre-school one morning. I was lamenting another sleepless night and how I wished Liza would just do what I wanted to do - which at the moment was sleep - but we were both saying that this little beings were not robots - they were their own individuals who were going to make their own decisions and had their own journeys to forge. And the more children I've had - (4 to be exact)- the more this has been true - not only are the different from me - they are different from each other and nothing about anything they do or choose or say is certain. Yes - becoming a parent brought all sorts of uncertainty into my life. There is nothing about parenting that is ex-pected or known. I realized very quickly that I could not rely on myself and I was not in control of anything. And I would love to say as they've grown older that has changed but it just gets harder - sorry all you parents that are just starting out - but I've had more moments of helplessness and worry as they've grown. I guess because now their deci-sions can be life altering. Battling Liza over when she wanted to go potty on the big potty seems very minuscule compared to decisions, we have to figure out with her now. Par-enting ushers in a whole new level of uncertainty.
When you truly think about it all of life is uncertain - isn't it - we have no guarantees - I was watching the funeral of officer Leath - the impd officer that was killed in the line of duty - what a devastating tragedy - she certainly did not leave her home that morning - kiss her son good-bye - expecting that she would not return. Many of you are facing cir-cumstances in your own individual lives that leave you feeling uncertain. Uncertainty is a part of life. Right now, we are just in a moment of global uncertainty. The whole world is waking up unsure of what each day holds.
The definition of uncertainty is:
The whole world is waking up with questions - unsure of what comes next - when it comes - how it comes
Some of the questions that have been swirling in my house - go from simple to huge:
How long do I have to wear my mask?
When will school resume as normal?
Will I get my sports season?
Will our vacation get cancelled - again?
Will I get to go back to college?
When will the quarantine lift?
Will I still have a job?
Will I get unemployment?
When will I see my parents again? How much at risk are they/
Will someone I know get the virus? How will that end up for them?
Will I get it?
Some of you are asking questions too - hard questions:
Will I ever get the surgery I was supposed to have?
Will my marriage survive this?
When can I be with a person again?
Will we ever feel normal again?
What is normal now?
What are your questions your dealing with? What is causing you worry and anxiety?
All of this leads to worry and fear and anxiety - and this whole anxiety thing is already an epidemic in our world - our country
So how do we handle this - with all of this new uncertainty
And that's why we are in this series of that exact question - what now?
Faith when nothing's normal anymore.
And nothing is normal - it's all different and strange - and I don't know what normal will be going forward from here.
And I feel like this week a lot of us have hit a wall - I was already feeling this and then I had a meeting with my drama team and you could see it on their zoom faces - they were just done - some on the team desperately wanted contact and some on the team (mostly moms of little kids) want to play hide and seek and never be found.
What do we do with all of this?
Last week Barry taught us the to lament when we are feeling sad or fearful.
In the next couple of weeks will look at how to handle the isolation from each other and how to handle the restlessness that we are all feeling to a certain level.
This week we are focused on what to do with this world of uncertainty - the unknown.
The unknown that causes emotions of fear, frustration, anxiety.
And there is no better book to go to in the bible when you are dealing with a vast array of emotions than the book of Psalms.
It is a prayer book. A book we can look to when words escape us, when we don't know what to say to God. Whether pain or joy, the Psalms give us words to express to God through all of it. It is a book that gives us permission to wrestle with God. A book of la-ment and praise. The psalm we are going to look at today I would classify as a psalm of reassurance.
Barry shared with us last week - how the psalms give us the words for lament - as we grieve the losses that we are experiencing.
This week the psalm we are looking at I believe is giving us words of comfort - comfort as we face uncertainty.
Because I believe when we are faced with uncertainty - the only answer is to turn our eyes to God.
And Psalm 91 shows us why this is true.
Grab a bible and turn to Psalm 91 and let's look at what it has to say to us.
Some attribute this psalm to Moses - like Psalm 90 - and some to David - but it is classi-fied as anonymous.
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
Verse 1 and 2 talk about the protection, care and comfort of God/
It talks about dwelling in the shelter of the most high.
Rest in the shadow.
To live/dwell with someone means to be in proximity - right there with them - you know the ones you live with best - especially right now - to know God well.
And verse 2 talks about resting in the shadow - again you have to be in close proximity to someone to be in their shadow - right next to them for their shadow to cover you.
These 2 verses are reminding us how close you have to be in relationship to God to feel his care comfort and protection - you must abide in Him - be in step with Him - He is your home - your dwelling - you are so close to him his shadow can cover you.
And when you have that deep rich relationship with God - he will become your refuge and fortress - he is the place you will run because you trust that he will protect you - as he has before.
In him - you will put your trust.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
The psalmist gets specific about how God will protect us- rescue from traps - protect from disease.
The psalmist is using the word you thru out - these truths are for each individual - for you if you truly trust and abide in God.
God also protects His people in times of plague and disease. The psalmist, inspired by the Holy Spirit, did not intend this as an absolute promise, that every believer would be delivered. Instead, the idea is that the psalmist could point to many times when God did just that for His trusting people. - we've seen him do it before
The gentle care of a mother protecting her babies with her wings and the powerful God protecting us with armor ""As for God's care, it combines the warm protectiveness of a parent bird with the hard, unyielding strength of armor.""
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
These verses are the result of his care and protections - once you have experienced it - this is how you will feel - no fear - no dread - and remember this is poetry - it's not literal arrow - what is your disaster.
Also speaking to the fact that God can take on any issue - at any time - day or night - or midday - he is always present.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
""It is impossible that any ill should happen to the man who is beloved of the Lord; the most crushing calamities can only shorten his journey and hasten him to his reward. Ill to him is no ill, but only good in a mysterious form. Losses enrich him, sickness is his med-icine, reproach is his honor, death is his gain. No evil in the strict sense of the word can happen to him, for everything is overruled for good."" (Spurgeon)
Bad things can and will happen but because we've surrendered and abide/remain in God good and beauty can emerge.
9 If you make the LORD your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won't even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
More assurances of God's comfort and protection - referring back to the first verses - if you make God your refuge- your shelter - you abide in Him - will protect you - no evil can conquer you - you have life in God - in Christ - you have eternity - he will send angels to protect you.
With God's comfort and protection, you will trample lions - crush serpents (Satan) - again poetry - not literal lions and cobras - what are your lions and cobras - that God will help you conquer.
14 The LORD says, ""I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.
God's promise to and blessing over the one who loves Him.
These last three verses are set in the first person as God speaks promise and blessing over His people. He speaks specifically over those who love Him. It has been wonderfully noted that the last words of this psalm are not spoken by God's people, but to God's people.
I will rescue and protect those that choose to love and trust me - it is not a feeling we wait for - it is a choice we make.
He will be with, rescue, honor reward, give to those that live and rest in Him - going back to verse 1.
Do you truly - live and rest in him - love him - trust him - have you made that choice.
He is there - waiting.
In the last lines of the psalm, God spoke personal and wonderful blessings over the one who loves and knows Him:
The blessing of His presence: I will be with him in trouble.
The blessing of His protection: I will rescue him.
The blessing of His promotion: I will - honor him.
The blessing of His prosperity: reward with long life - salvation.
The blessing of His preservation: And give them My salvation. - a long life - an eternity
The psalms give words to our emotions - when we can't find them on our own - and there are lots of emotions right now - the psalm Barry shared last week gave us words for fear - words to lament.
But Psalm 91 is a prayer of reassurance - a reminder and a promise of who God is and what he can and will do for those who love him
These are words we need in uncertain times - which is really all the time.
Uncertainty can lead to this overwhelming fear and anxiety.
We may be missing out on the blessings because of our worry and fretting - that gets us nowhere - except possibly an ulcer.
I believe the only thing we can do during these times - is turn to God - turn your eyes to God - to the God of Psalm 91 - the God who
Rescues Protects Covers Shelters Answers Rewards.
I have never needed God more than when I started raising my children - I realized my helplessness - how small I was and how much I needed my big God.
I have a long list of questions right now - as we all do - we listed them earlier - I don't know the answers to all these questions but to be honest - I never really did. We are not in control - everyday of our lives is filled with uncertainty - this time that we are in right now is just crystalizing that for us - for all of us - for the entire world. Covid-19 is just put-ting this all into perspective. I have never had control - I have to trust God and turn to him at all times. He doesn't owe me any answers - he doesn't owe me any explanations - he doesn't owe me anything at all - nothing - I owe him everything. And he never promised me answers or explanations - he promised that he loves me - that he will be there - that he feels every emotion and pain that I feel - because of what Jesus endured on the cross there is nothing that we will ever go thru that God can't understand - and he will be with me in it - in all of it - and I know that for sure - because he has proven that over and over - I trust in a God big enough to be in control and a God personal enough to love and pro-tect me - broken, sinful, me and to be with me thru everything. Turn to God - open your heart to him - trust in him - I personally cannot imagine enduring any part of life without my king, my savior, my lord, my redeemer, my friend
In this time of mass uncertainty here is what I am certain of:
Isaiah 41:10 New Living Translation (NLT)
10 Don't be afraid, for I am with you.
Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Psalm 94:19 New Living Translation (NLT)
19 When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
And Jesus says
Mark 6:50 New Living Translation (NLT)
50 They were all terrified when they saw him.
But Jesus spoke to them at once. ""Don't be afraid,"" he said. ""Take courage! I am here![a]""
Here are a few more verses to meditate on:
1 John 4:18
2 Timothy 1:7
1 Peter 5:6-7
And again, I know this because he has proven himself trustworthy over and over again - he is there.
We can embrace uncertainty in all of life because our God that we love and trust and abide in - is with us.
And when we embrace this truth and then embrace our uncertainty - we can be trans-formed.
Meditate on scripture
Times of silence
We have time for all of this right now.
""It is how we embrace the uncertainty in our lives that leads to the great transformations of our souls."" -
What can we learn from all of what we are going thru right now? How can we come out of this better? As individuals - as a community - as a church - when come out of this time - we have the opportunity to stitch a new garment as Brene Brown said, ""If we turn to God during this time - not only will comfort us and shelter us - but He will teach us - transform us - if we allow him to.""br />
Beautiful things can come out of this.
We are living in uncertain times - life is uncertain - all of life
Don't do it alone - turn your eyes to God - to the one who will rescue, comfort, shelter, teach and transform.
You can emerge from this better - we can emerge from this better, but only if we turn our eyes to the only one who is certain.