Psalm 91 (NRSV)
You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday….
Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
the Most High your dwelling place,
no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent.
Psalm 91 provides for us a welcome message for the days that we are living through. The past three years have brought sadness to all of us. The pandemic has caused the death of loved ones, the sickness for many, worries about what might happen, isolation from our support communities, disrupted work, interrupted studies, curtailed plans, financial hardship.
This Psalm reminds us that whatever terrors and grief we face, God is with us. God walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. The message of this Psalm is not that nothing bad will happen to the faithful. Rather, the message is one of comfort—that whatever might happen, we must not be fearful, because God is with us, helping us and sheltering us.
I was blessed with wonderful parents who throughout their lives took care of me and helped keep me safe. And so the image of God as a protective and loving parent is easy for me to grasp. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer over 20 years ago, it never occurred to me to blame God. I remember thinking how devastated my mother would have been to know that I had the same disease that she had died of. Mother would have grieved for and protected me in every way she could. How much more would God, my heavenly parent, be grieving for and protecting me as I faced this horrible diagnosis and treatment?
One of the most beloved hymns of modern times is “On Eagle’s Wings.” It was sung as a prelude to the Papal Mass with Pope Francis in Madison Square Gardens on September 25, 2015. The words of this hymn are almost identical to the text of Psalm 91.
Watch this Video HERE
Most loving heavenly parent, I ask that you help me remember that you are with me, whatever I am facing through all the days of my life. Please give me the faith to trust that you will provide a refuge. Help me remember to put my fears and worries in your hands. Amen