Week Twenty, Day Four
These descriptive names for God often appear in clusters in the psalms as well as in other portions of the Scripture. When you pray to God your Refuge, Shield, Fortress, Dwelling Place, and Strong Tower, you are invoking the God who has promised to watch over you and keep you safe.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:1-2)
PRAYING THE NAME
Many are saying of me,
"God will not deliver him."
But you are a shield around me,O LORD;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground... In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:12-13, 16)
Reflect On: Psalm 3:2-3; Ephesians 6:12-18
Praise God: For he is our shield.
Offer Thanks: For the ways God is building up your faith.
Confess: Any tendency to let your guard down by failing to exercise your faith.
Ask God: To make you aware of the spiritual battle.
They say the devil is in the details, and I think that's true, especially when it comes to the details of our most important relationships. It reminds me of a joke about a couple who claimed to have the perfect marriage. When asked what made their relationship so successful, the husband replied, "Oh, that's easy. We never argue because she makes all the small decisions and I make all the big ones. She decides where we're going to live, where we're going to work, where our kids will go to school, and how we're going to spend our money. And I decide what to do about the big things, like nuclear proliferation, air pollution, and global warming."
The truth is, most of our important battles will not be fought on the world's stage but right here at home in the midst of our day-to-day lives. These battles often involve a spiritual dimension we can't afford to ignore.
My friend Sarah's son suffers from a neurological disorder that sometimes creates enormous havoc in their home. He flies into frequent rages, becomes hysterical over the slightest injury, and displays various kinds of obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Helping him when he's upset, my friend confided, is like trying to calm a tornado or lasso a hurricane.
Last week, while her husband was away on a business trip, their little boy had another meltdown, one so violent that it threw Sarah completely off. Her son made such terrible threats that Sarah decided to put the kitchen knives well out of reach. When the tantrum was finally over, my friend went upstairs to her bedroom, shut the door, and screamed at the top of her lungs. She couldn't take it anymore. Where was God in all this? Why wouldn't he heal her son? Didn't he care? She shouted at him. She cried. She slammed the door. She pounded her fist on the bed.
In the next few days help came, in the shape of a caring friend who spent time with her son, in the shape of a counselor who offered helpful advice, and in the shape of a word from Scripture that convinced my friend that God had not abandoned her or her child—indeed, he knew better than she what they were facing. She reminded herself that there was a spiritual component to the fight she was waging. When her son acted out, she was tempted to forget everything she knew about God—about his faithfulness, his love, and his desire to help. But that forgetfulness always threw her into despair about the future.
As Sarah has reflected on her life, she has come to realize that she is living a story. Like any story, it has tension, high points, and low points. There's wonder and joy and delight as well as pain and sorrow and suffering. She knows that God has entrusted her son to her for a reason. She can't see the story's end, though she's aware of the possibilities for good and for ill. But she is also aware of God's faithfulness. Moreover, she is convinced that faith, which is a shield against the lies of the evil one, is what will help her play the role she is supposed to in the story God is writing.
Your own story may hold its share of challenges to your faith. When you feel yourself slipping into discouragement, take hold of the words of Psalm 3: "You are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head."
For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.