Take Heart, Friend (Psalm 121:7-8)
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. —Psalm 121:7-8
This passage in Psalm 121 is especially precious to me. When I was pregnant with my youngest child, I was very sick. I had hyperemesis gravidarum (which are big words for saying I threw up all...the...time). In the brief pauses between vomiting, I felt nearly overcome with the pain of nausea. I was on the mission field and knew that I would be communicating exclusively in Spanish with my doctors and my nurses. I constantly worried that, in the throes of labor, I would forget every word of Spanish. In addition, a new mosquito-borne illness called Zika was causing panic for expecting moms. I had a number of other life and health issues that were causing me to despair. One day, as I was reading my Bible, I glanced out at the mountains that surrounded our city and the Lord reminded me of Psalm 121. The Lord is our help. The Lord will keep us from all evil; He will keep our life. The Lord will keep our going out and our coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Amen! What a reassurance this was to me in a time of great anxiety and fear.
Has there been a time in your life when you looked up to the hills for help—when you have needed reassurance? Have you felt overcome by evil before? Perhaps it is the simple realization that evil is prospering in the world. Turn on the news, look at our culture and our world, and one doesn’t have to look hard to think that wicked is triumphing, that evil is running rampant. Maybe it’s more specific in your life. Maybe it’s disease or illness. Maybe it’s the pain of a broken relationship. Perhaps you’ve been wronged. Maybe you’ve been assaulted or abused—or someone you love has been a victim. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one to crime or addiction or some other evil. It can feel as though evil is winning. Do you read this verse and think, No, God hasn’t kept me from all evil. Evil has come and come hard. Maybe the evil you are thinking of is in your heart. Are you struggling with evil? Is there a sin that threatens to overtake you?
Take heart, friend. Turn to your Lord, your Help. He will keep you from all evil, He will keep your coming and going. I can’t know exactly what this will mean in your life. I don’t know what you have experienced or will experience, but I do know that evil doesn’t win. God does. And you are part of God’s story. And God’s story is a story of hope, of redemption and reconciliation in Christ Jesus, a story filled with undeserved grace and mercy, and unending love.
We can rejoice in knowing that those of us who are God’s people know the end of the story. God’s story has a happy ending. It might not feel that way right now, but He is a good God with a good story. Good triumphs over evil. Justice and mercy prevail. One day, sin will end, and evil will be finally done away. And until that day comes, God has promised to keep you. He will hold you close and He won’t let you slip under.
Read all of Psalm 121. Praise God that He is your help. Ask Him to help you to know this and to believe it.
Think of some of the blessings in your life. Be specific, even challenges that God has used for good. Think of blessings from today. Write them down. Thank God for His goodness in your life.
Think of a specific time when God was your help. Write it down somewhere, and use it in hard times to remind you of how God has helped in the past and will continue to be your help.
What evil are you battling in your life right now? Ask God to guard you and keep you from it. Ask for His help, trust in His Word, rest in His goodness and mercy.
If you are struggling, ask for help, knowing God will keep you. He will use His people to care for you. Be vulnerable and trust in His goodness through His people.