Summary: In the midst of our nation’s tragedy, we can find rest and shelter in God’s abiding presence
Psalm 91:1,2 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
If you’d go to the beach, you’d see an ironic sight – people in swimsuits sitting underneath umbrellas. This is ironic because people go to the beach to get wet. They want to enjoy the sun and surf. But the sun can be too much. It’s heat too intense. That’s why we need shade. And so people bring umbrellas to the beach.
We have another umbrella of sorts. We’re told it by name. It is the Most High, the Almighty. To the Hebrew mind these names were quite picturesque. “Most High, the Almighty” – those names describe God as the Supreme Being; he is the pinnacle of all power, glory, wisdom, and grace. No one is greater than the Almighty Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is also the God of promise. He is the one who promises to love, protect, and prosper his people.
In the aftermath of our nation’s catastrophe, we might be tempted to ask, “Where was the Almighty on September 11?” Tragedy has struck our land. Sin and Satan have reared their ugly heads as political terrorists attacked and struck helpless people, leaving us all vulnerable and groping in the dark.
For a shadow of a different sort had encompassed our nation. It was the shadow caused by the smoke, ash, and rubble of crumbled buildings. Along with those crumbled building are crumbled hearts and lives; coated with ash and covered by the shadow of grief.
Yet, God was not absent from the scene. His almighty shadow is still cast across this country, the world, and the entire universe. The Lord is indeed the God of the nations. All is in his control. And the shadow of his justice will prevail. He will not leave the guilty unpunished. The Lord tells us what his own name means and how his shadow of justice is extended: “The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Exodus 34:6, 7)
The Lord will maintain his justice. His shadow will pursue and hunt down all who despise his name. That shadow of justice is proof of God’s presence. It is proof of his strength. Do not doubt. The Lord is the ultimate warrior and hero.
And, yet, that’s not even the main picture God gives us of himself. The psalm writer says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
All who dwell – who sit down and settle – in the Lord’s shadow have shelter and rest. God’s shadow is still cast over us, proving that he is in control, guiding and protecting. We may never be able to make sense of all that happened to our country on September 11. Horrific visions of buildings collapsing and people screaming are forever etched in our minds. Yet, God continues to be in control. He allowed that tragedy to take place according to his will and purpose. And his shadow was there encompassing so many others on that day; his shadow of grace.
This is not God’s shadow of justice in the form of a hammer. This is a shadow of love in the form of the cross. This is the shadow of Christ our Savior. This shadow encompasses all who call on the name of the Most High for salvation. In his grace, God called many people out of tragedy and home to himself in heaven. They have found eternal rest in God’s presence. His shadow proofs it.
God is our shelter from the heat of this evil, wicked world. His shadow is still over us. And it’s the proof of his presence. Our oldest son used sleep with a nightlight. Sometimes, I would come home late from work and he’d already be tucked in bed sleeping. I would creep in to say good night, bend over the crib to kiss him, and that’s when I noticed it. My shadow. The night-light would cast my shadow over the entire crib, encompassing my child. My shadow was the proof of my presence. I was there.
God is still with us. He will not forsake his people. By his grace, we are able to stand in his presence. The proof is his shadow. God is over us. And in his presence we find refuge and strength. In the shadow of his cross we find forgiveness, rest, and salvation.