Every time I read the newspaper or open the news app on my computer, I am dismayed at so many horrible reports. Not only are people killing people, accidents and mishaps also take lives. Many people are afraid to go places because of so many threats in the world.
In the Old Testament, David’s safety concern centered on enemies who persecuted him. He asked God, “You are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. (Psalm 31:1; 3-4) Later, he wrote God’s answer to his prayer:
“Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” (Psalm 37:1–6)
God comforted David by telling him his enemies would not live forever; their days were numbered. This is sometimes a comfort for me too. Wicked people are no different than anyone else. They cannot harm others forever.
The psalm goes on in that theme, but also reminds readers that God will bless His people even while their enemies are alive. He says . . .
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming. The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright; their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous. The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever; they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance. But the wicked will perish; the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish—like smoke they vanish away. The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives; for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off. The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” (Psalm 37:7–25)
Our struggles with the ‘right now’ and our inability to see the eternal outcome often includes comparisons. We feel we have ‘so little’ compared to the ‘abundance’ of wicked people, or are ill rather than healthy, sad rather than happy, but God repeatedly promises to take care of His people. Our times are in His hand.
As Fortner says, all the ups and downs of life, including health and sickness, prosperity and adversity, wealth and poverty, happiness and sorrow — are in the hands of our Lord and Redeemer. He appoints the length of our days and the darkness of our nights according to will. He is wise. Our times of refreshing are also in His hands.
We face the simple perils of aging and God comforts me with the fact that “my life will not close until the hand of my Father’s love closes it. I shall not die before my time and I shall not be forgotten and left on the stage of time too long.”
Oh Lord Jesus, how I thank You that not only are my times are in Your hands, so is everything else. All that happens in my life (and in this world) are in Your hands. I can cast all anxieties on You, because You care for me. (1 Peter 5:7) You keep me in perfect peace when my mind leans on You. I can trust in You forever, for You, the Lord God, are an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:3–4)