No Evil Shall Befall Me – Really? #Psalm 91

Boat in stormy weather

During this time of the Covid pandemic psalm 91 is often recited since this particular psalm is about God keeping people safe from harm and even mentions pestilence. Some preachers and Christians are probably using this text to say that there is no need for vaccines and other protective measures against the virus, since God promises in His word to protect us from all this. They would say, we must just have faith, and then we can go on like before.

When I read this psalm on a Facebook post a few weeks ago, I realized this psalm was very suitable for the times we are living in. At the same time my spontanious reaction was that the psalmist was lying and not telling the truth about life as it is, no matter you believe in God, a Higher Power or nothing like that. Let us read a part of the psalm together:

“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 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…A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…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.”

Does this mean that no Christians or believers will die of Covid? We all know that is not the case. But why is the psalmist saying “A thousand may fall…but it will not come near you”, as if this is how life turns out for those who takes refuge in the Lord? I believe I do not have the full answer to that, but I do have some thoughts.

I think psalm 91 is a beatiful poem about trusting and resting in Divine Love, and therefore the text is encouraging us not to be overtaken by fear. Still, I do also believe, that this psalm is written by a person in great need of God’s help and protection, so this is also the believer trying to encourage and comfort him- og herself. We could almost say that the psalmist is trying to handle his fear and trying to survive in difficult times, and therefore he is also comforting himself, and putting his trust in God. And of course, there is nothing wrong in doing so. Rather it must be greatly advised to cry out to God, when someone is experiencing dark times. But, that does not mean that there is someone that we will save us from every bad experience and that we will never get sick, and sometimes even experience a bodily death caused by a disease. This is my humble opinion.

I listened to Marshall Davis on his podcast the other day. He is a former baptist pastor and now a Christian non-dualist. I am thankful to him that he talked about this particular psalm. He warns about telling people lies that nothing bad ever happens to Christians or people of faith, since statistics and life show that no one in particular is exempted from possible harm from Covid. Christians also experience that it is not true that “a thousand may fall at your side…but it will not come near you”. I would really recommend you to listen to this podcast episode to hear Davis’s words that are truthful and also encouraging. I think Davis is telling us that we need to face life as it is, and not lie about it, still at the same time “…the Most High can be our dwelling place”.

Marshall Davis also mentions that most of the psalm writes about God in the third person. Only the last three verses are written as if the Divine Self is speaking directly in first person. I therefore find the last three verses particulary interesting and also encouraging:

“Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation”.

Even though we also in these verses read about protection, deliverance and long life, in some way the thought that no harm can reach us seems toned down. God speaks in first person and says, “When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them IN trouble”. So, if I am to honor my own and many people’s experience, I can’t say that nothing evil or harmful will ever happen, but I can say with confindence that I will put my trust in God and encourage others believers and seekers to do the same. We can trust that The Divine Love will be with us in times of trouble, even though we cannot necessarily escape all trouble.

I also believe that Jesus Christ suffering on the cross shows us that just as we can suffer with Him being hung innocently to die on a cross, we can know He also is with us in our suffering. A reason He suffered is not so we would not know suffering in our lives. He suffered so we can find comfort in His love for us and trust that Love will bring us through the suffering and dark times. After suffering and death there is always resurrection and new life!

You can find the talk by Marshall Davis and the episode I am referring to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbMk6nDTzh4&list=PLsK97WbFX2Mb1czemIFlPSawSnD8Yti9j&index=6

The Scripture quotations herein are from the New Revised Standard Bible, copyright (c) 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reseverd.

Keep me in your Heart for a while

butterfly in hands
I think of Løgstrup’s words that each individual in his encounter with another human being holds some of that human life in his hand. How important is our encounter with the other and the other’s encounter with us? This applies throughout life, and some meet once, while others spend a lot of time together. How do I receive others? The same way I also want to be received?
Adults as well as children have both strength and vulnerability in a beautiful combination. And only in the meeting between people and in honesty and love does someone find the strength in his own vulnerability. It is precisely in this meeting between people that the miracle happens. In this meeting we are created for each other and for oneself. Yes so, it is! In your own encounter with the other and the other’s encounter, this is how life itself becomes.
Thank you to those I meet almost daily and thank you to those I may have only met once and I have yet to meet! Thank you for being and also giving me joy in just being! And finally, who would be thankful for meeting with you in the days to come (in corona time: a message, a phone?)? Feel free to listen to this nice song “Keep me in your heart” which for us can be both about the living and those who have found rest 🙂
Norsk versjon:
Bevar meg i ditt hjerte for en stund
Jeg tenker på Løgstrups ord om at hver enkelt i sitt møte med et annet menneske holder noe av det menneskets liv i sin hånd. Hvor viktig er ikke vårt møte med den andre og den andres møte med oss? Dette gjelder gjennom livet, og noen møtes en gang, mens andre får mye tid sammen. Hvordan tar jeg imot andre? Slik jeg også ønsker å bli tatt imot? Voksen som også barn har i seg både en styrke og sårbarhet i en vakker kombinasjon. Og bare i møte mellom mennesker og i ærligheten og kjærligheten finner menneskets styrken i sin egen sårbarhet. Nettopp i dette møtet mellom mennesker skjer miraklet. I dette møte blir vi til for hverandre og for en selv. Ja slik, er det! I ditt eget møte med den andre og den andres møte deg slik blir selve livet til.
Takk til deg som jeg nesten daglig møter og takk til deg som jeg kanskje bare har møtt en gang og takk til deg som jeg en gang skal møte. Takk for at du er til og også gir meg glede i det å være til! Og å til slutt, hvem kan bli glad for et møte med deg i dagene som kommer (i koronatid: en melding, en telefon)? Lytt gjerne til denne fine sangen “Keep me in your heart for a while” som for oss kan handle om både om de levende og de som har funnet hvilen 🙂

In the Lion’s Den

Lion

The story of Daniel in the Lion’s den came to my mind today. It spoke to me about all the dangers, problems, sicknesses that we can experience in our lives. No one (at least not the unbelievers) believed that Daniel would survive the experience being thrown to the hungry lions. But we know how the story goes and how God protected Daniel in this time of crisis. God even made the lions calm so that Daniel’s fear could be lessened.

If Daniel was a real human, which I believe he was, he probably experienced some fear being in the cave seemingly unprotected and surrounded by a very real danger. Or maybe Daniel was one of those who was not so afraid because his trust in the Creator of life had grown so much over time, that he just knew that he would be brought through this valley of darkness?

I think Daniel knew in his heart, that what was with him was bigger and stronger than anything, and any situation. But I am not fan of presenting simple solutions to great problems, and I apologize if that is how you read this text. But hopefully these words can give some consolation and comfort to you whatever your life circumstances are.

I believe it takes quite some time, yes maybe years of experience, to develop the trust Daniel had. So if you (like me some times!) can not feel calm and can not stop worrying about your or some other people’s situation it can still be helpful to know that God is bigger than any situation and that somehow He will bring you through the dark times.

And while you are experiencing that darkness, pain, problem, sickness, suffering, like Daniel in the lion’s den and many before and after him, yes even Jesus in Gethsemane and on the cross, you can remind yourself that God is present there with you, and that one day (and maybe sooner than you think), God will light up your way and renew your joy!

I am not trying to say that if your in great pain and suffering that you can just believe and God will fix everything just like that. If you are experiencing a lot of pain and suffering in your life I also recommend that you reach out to someone that can listen to you, help you and be there with you. Often we need help from others, at times even also professional help. God has put other people there to be of help to you!

I believe that God can and will bring us through our suffering (and that we can even grow from it!), but often He asks us to be the ones helping and supporting other people in their difficult times. So ask yourself, who can I reach out to today?

If you somehow found this post interesting or helpful and would like to be notified when knew posts are out, you can send an email to sveinboerge@hotmail.com. Also feel free to comment here on the blog or send me feedback by email.

Be blessed!

The Desert of Loneliness

Loneliness is a like a desert

At times you realize that what you are experiencing and feeling inside is a deep loneliness, and with this, a feeling of sadness as well. It feels like you are disconnected from everyone and everything. You may realize that all your talking, reading, commenting, blogging et cetera is all about a desire to feel truly loved and connected.

What connects you to this loneliness can some times be a small comment from someone. Some times the comment is about something that you think should not have been a big of a deal. Maybe it is just a comment that makes you realize that you are not so admired as you like to be? Maybe this person is talking about someone else that means a lot to him or her, and you are smiling and at the same time you are experiencing your loneliness and sadness. Because, you want to be the one the other person is talking about, you want to be the one he or she is admiring (the most).

In the example mentioned above you may not realize in the exact moment you are listening to the comment what you are actually experiencing. But when the noise around you quiets down you may realize what your feelings are about.

I believe that to realize and know these feelings of loneliness and sadness are important. Even though they are painful they are something real that needs to be appreciated and dealt with for what it is.

But what is it, really? This loneliness that sometimes leads to drivenness and stress. Other times it makes us compulsive or aggressive. And still other times it just creates a deep and painful sadness.

I am not totally sure. But I believe in the importance of being embraced for who you are when you are a small child. If this embracing did not happen to the degree that you needed this could have created or at least deepened the loneliness.

I also believe this loneliness is part of us all. There is a good side to it, because it helps us to be creative and also to do a lot of good towards others. The loneliness makes us reach out to others. But there is also a dark side to it. That is when the loneliness becomes all there is and people find that their lives are not worth living.

I remember this song written by Mike Peters in The Alarm which goes “and put your loneliness in mine and rise”. I realize that since this is also sung, the feeling of loneliness is a common experience. And one thing we can do about it when we realize we are lonely, is to reach out to someone, because the other person may have the same experience. Together we are really stronger, when we are honest about our own lives.

Finally, there is also a story about a God that came to Earth and showed himself as Jesus Christ. He met a lot of lonely people on His path and showed them goodness, grace and forgiveness. He showed people at the time and now us when we are reading about Him, an all embracing and unconditional love.

I said that a lack of embracing in childhood could deepen the loneliness (and maybe this lack of embrace early on also hinders us from believing in, receiving and experiencing God’s embrace later?) but I also believe the loneliness is already there from the start, from the moment you open your eyes. That is because there is only One that can truly embrace us completely, the One that knows us better than ourselves, namely the Creator of all life. He has shown us and are still showing us His love through Jesus, the Christ and his creation. And what if God planted this loneliness in us so that we would long for his Spirit and the River within.

If you somehow by reading this realize that you are experiencing a loneliness that brings you a lot of pain. Please do not sit down in hiding, but reach out to someone that can and will listen to you. If you believe there is none, I have to disagree. There truly is someone out there you can talk to if you go looking. There is so much love in this world, and there is also love for you. So maybe now it is time to make that phonecall or send a message to someone? Even though I am also mentioning a God that loves us and embraces us, we often need other humans to help us realize we are loved, and we need other humans to love us!

If you are at a time in your life where you are experiencing contentment, love and connection, please do not keep this love to yourself! One of my heroes is Richard Rohr, a Fransiscan author, who also started the Center for Action and Contemplation in Alberquerque, New Mexico (the USA). We are not only called to contemplate and experience God’s love in our own lives and deepest selves, we are called to reach out to others. So, maybe now is the time for action? Who can you reach out to? Look around!

If you somehow found this post interesting or helpful and would like to be notified when knew posts are out, you can send an email to sveinboerge@hotmail.com. Also feel free to comment here on the blog or send me feedback by email.

Be blessed!