Mothers’ Union Devotion Wednesday 8th July 2020
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. Psalm 91. 1-4
I love this psalm which is set for today’s evening prayer. For me it conjures up an image of Medieval Britain living under the threat of the Black Death. Of course, it was written many centuries before that, in the eastern Mediterranean region of biblical times. A time and place which had a very different image of the deadly pestilence. Similarly, our generation will see this psalm very differently from now on. Although pestilence is probably not the word the younger generation would choose to refer to the Covid-19 outbreak. Pandemic sounds much more scientific and enlightened! Both descriptions are, of course, capable of generating panic in the hearer.
As we begin to emerge from the strict regulations of lockdown, the things that cause us panic will be different. As long as we kept ourselves isolated, we had control of the risk to ourselves. When we first step out into the world, we no longer feel the same level of control. The outdoors can seem very big indeed when you have been used to the same four walls for months. For those who have been unable to exercise, our bodies feel stiffer, wobblier, and maybe more frail. A walk along the sea front or in the local park might seem so much more crowded than it did a few months ago, as many people take advantage of the relaxing of travel restrictions. Emerging into this world will be an ongoing challenge for many over the coming weeks.
Psalm 91 expresses these fears but also asks us to trust in the Lord. The writer acknowledges that the world is a scary place, full of things that can harm us whilst reminding us that we are not expected to face our fears alone. God will be with us providing a safe haven to express our fears and sending us out with renewed confidence. With the knowledge that we will be watched over as we venture on in life.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91 v. 11
We are not guaranteed to be protected from everything that can harm us, but we are promised that we will never have to face our trials alone. So, when the reality of this new socially distancing world feels big and scary, we can retreat and find refuge under the shadow of the wings of our ever-loving Lord.
May you all feel this protecting presence of God, as you venture on in life.