When Pain Feels More Real than God’s Presence (Psalm 91:14-16)
"Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. ¹⁵When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. ¹⁶With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." –Psalm 91:14-16
The pain and brokenness of our fallen world often feel more real than the presence and power of our God, don’t they?
The pain is real: the withering disease, the harsh word, the distant relationship, the ache of depression. We long for shelter, refuge, deliverance, but the words we have reflected on over the past several weeks can feel like so many trite coffee mugs at a Christian bookstore when we’re in the midst of suffering and pain. For many of us, the last few years have been more Psalm 88 or 90 than Psalm 91. Many of us have called out, “my soul is full of troubles” (88:3), “my eyes grow dim through sorrow” (88:9), and “How long?” (90:13).
Remarkably, into that very real pain–in the psalmist’s day and in ours–the very voice of God breaks through from Psalm 91. His voice offers rich comfort—Hold tight! Deliverance is coming (v. 14a). It’s not just the deliverance of angels (v. 11), it’s the deliverance of the one who commands the angels. You know my name! You can count on my protection (14b). Whether arrows (v. 5), armies (v. 7), or adders (v.13), you needn’t fear, you can depend on the protection of God.
Then comes the encouragement to cry out to God: Call on me! I will answer you with my presence and my rescue (v. 15). Fear not, you saints, you can depend on God in prayer. He will be with you and will rescue you. Like Charles Spurgeon said reflecting on these verses, “God is always near in sympathy and in power to help his tried ones.”
As the Psalm draws to a close, God assures His saints of glory, life, and a realized salvation (vv. 15b-16). For today's Christian, theologian Derek Kidner points to parallels to these three gifts in Romans 8 (vv. 18, 11, 23-35 respectively) and notes that this Psalm reveals “dimensions only occasionally evident to the saints of the Old Testament."
I don’t know what you are facing this day, but I invite you to take refuge and comfort in the powerful voice of God. Be certain of His deliverance! Count on His protection! Call on Him in prayer!
What is one way you have experienced God’s presence and protection in difficult times?
How can you encourage others in your life with the truths of these verses?
What practical action will you take this week to improve your prayer life by calling on God, knowing He is present and will rescue you?
Peter Morris serves as a missionary with ReachGlobal, focusing on family discipleship and multicultural church planting. He and his wife, Melanie, host the Joyful Family Discipleship Network, a global learning community for parents and church leaders committed to investing in intentional discipleship of the next generation. For three years, Peter and his family served in San José, Costa Rica. They have served from Sydney, Australia since 2018. Peter grew up and completed college in Australia but lived in the United States from 2001-2015 where he completed his Masters degree and met Melanie. From 2007-2015, he served as the Family Ministries Director at Ambassador Bible Church, near Washington, DC. He and Melanie have four children: Samuel, Madeleine, Benjamin, and Alexandra.