Have you ever read biblical promises such as “The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;” (Psalm 121:7) and wondered how to reconcile them with reality? Our experiences don’t always seem to agree with what God has vowed to do. How can we explain this, knowing that the Lord is faithful and true?
If we look at the Bible carefully, we can see a patterning begins to emerge. On some occasions, God’s help is miraculous and awe-inspiring. He swoops down and rescues us out of a bad situation. Think about the time when Peter was in prison. He’s kept under the watchful eyes of sixteen soldiers and can’t even sleep without being chained to two of them. Suddenly, an angel appears and tells him to get up, then leads him to freedom past slumbering guards and through doors that open by themselves.
But there are other times when God’s help is less obvious. Let’s look at the Apostle Paul for a second. The Romans threw him into prison despite being falsely accused … and he stayed there for two years. After appealing to Caesar, he was sent to Rome (had a shipwreck on the way!) and was kept locked up for another two years.
It might look as if God helped Peter but not Paul. I certainly would much prefer to be in Peter’s shoes, wouldn’t you? Nonetheless, if we read the letters of Paul, it becomes clear that he had no doubts as to the Lord’s assistance and protection, despite sometimes even writing from prison.
God never forgets or abandons his children. He didn’t favor Peter over Paul. The reality is that he sometimes helps by removing us out of a circumstance, and at other times he helps by giving us the strength to make it through a difficult situation. But in both cases, his presence, care, and attention are the same.
I’ve seen this pattern in my life and the lives of others. For example, the Lord has miraculously saved me from a severe car accident on two occasions (that I know of). Those events are still vivid in my memory. On the other hand, I know people who’ve had terrible crashes that resulted in months in the hospital and years of rehab. Why did God rescue me and not them?
There are many questions to which we’ll never have the answer. But there are certain truths on which we can stand firm. One of them is the promise that God will never leave nor forsake any of his children. His help, protection, and care are trustworthy. We can be sure that if he doesn’t miraculously intervene to save us from difficulty, he will give us the strength to make it through victorious.