This post is about those times when God doesn’t seem to be protecting you from harm and pain. All of my life, I’ve heard people claiming God’s promises as their lifeline, especially when it comes to protection. We say that God is our fortress, our shelter, our protector, our deliverer. We tell stories about people being miraculously saved from death and hardship. But what about those people that aren’t saved from death, disease, and hardship? What happens there? Were they not covered by enough people in prayer to keep them from harm? Did they not have enough faith? Did God want them to suffer? Sometimes we blame the devil. But if God is our fortress and protector and he is all powerful, then how did the devil get through his defenses? That would lead us to believe that God let him through. Once again, we are left with “why?” If God is good and wants nothing but good for us, and if he is powerful and sovereign over every situation in our lives, then why does he allow death and pain to touch us?
Last month, Jacki and I were robbed. While we were sitting in our living room watching a movie, someone climbed through the window in the next room and took Jacki’s laptop and purse. Now, if you compare it to the things that some other people have suffered this year, it’s really not that big of a deal. It did, however, force us to confront a valid question. “How do we deal with this?” Before we were robbed, we would leave the windows open all day long and sometimes when we would go to sleep too. We wouldn’t worry about rustling grass outside or a thump on the roof. We never left our lights on at night. We were told that Thais didn’t really rob up here in the province. On top of that, we believed that God would keep us safe from harm.
Since we’ve been robbed, however, things have changed. We double check the windows before sleeping, we sometimes leave the lights on, we get up and check around the house when we hear weird noises. The question is this, “is that how we should be responding?” Should we go back to leaving the windows open and to not bothering to check if we hear something odd? Should we say, “okay, Jesus, you protected us from getting physically hurt then and we trust that you’ll do that in the future, so we’re not going to worry about it.”?
Or should we put broken glass on the wall, bars on the windows and buy a knife to have in the house just in case? If you go with the first response, the question you’ve got to ask yourself is “what about the people that get killed in their own homes by robbers? Some of them are Christians.” If you go with the second, you need to ask yourself, “how far do we take it? We obviously can never completely insulate ourselves from harm and if we trust in our fortress, then we’re not trusting in Jesus to keep us safe. But did Jesus ever promise to keep us safe?”
There are a lot of questions in this post so far, and I’m sure you’ve got plenty of responses, so before I go any further, why don’t you step up to bat and take a swing at a few?