Last Wednesday night, we prayed Compline at the end of our online Middle Way gathering. I’ve loved Compline for years, and I thought I knew the service well, but last week it surprised me. We read Psalm 91, which has never been my favorite choice. It’s long and it never really resonated with me. But this time I heard it with new ears.
God “shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter and from the deadly pestilence.” “You shall not be afraid…of the plague that stalks in the darkness nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.” “There shall no evil happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.” All that talk of plague, pestilence, and sickness—and I’d never really noticed it before.
The times we’re living in remind me that much of scripture was written in precarious times, in times when plague and war were a constant threat, times when people learned to rely on God because God was often all they had.
I don’t personally believe that God caused our current troubles, nor do I believe that God will magically protect us if we manage to pray in just the right way. I don’t think that’s how the world works. But I do believe that God is with us, whatever happens. And I believe that we, like the psalmist, can trust in God’s love and support in all that we encounter.
As we face our own fears, we too can pray with confidence, “You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God in whom I put my trust.”