Our days on earth were formed by God, “when as yet there was none of them”. By implication: He knows every day of our lives. He knows the day we will die. He planned it that way.
Does God really protect us from evil? As believers in the God of the Bible, we love the blessings of protection given in Scripture. We make bookmarks, fridge magnets and even bumper stickers out of them. We recite them whenever we are filled with fear. Take this one for instance:
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121:7,8 ESV
Is this true? Can we believe these words? Does God really protect us from evil? What was the psalmist actually thinking when he penned these words? Was he thinking exactly what we think when we read his blessing?
Does God Really Protect Us From Evil?
Often we find it hard to quieten the thought that these words may not be true. Doubts lurk in our minds. As an example, as of 2 August 2021, worldometers.info put the global death toll due to Covid-19 at just over four million. Did any one of those individuals who succumbed to this disease feel protected from evil? If they did, what was their understanding of the Lord’s protection?
Possibly even more disquieting is the evidence Scripture itself puts forward. The very book in which we find the blessings we so treasure also seems to whisper the suggestion of doubts we battle to suppress.
The Example of Stephen, the First Christian Martyr
For example, Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was put to death by the Jewish Sanhedrin as he attempted to defend the gospel and himself:
… as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:57-60 ESV
While being pelted with rocks, did the psalmist’s words – “He will keep your life” – come to Stephen’s mind at all? Did he pause and ask himself the question: Does God really protect us from evil?
The Experience of Other Heroes of the Faith
Elsewhere Scripture records the gruesome deaths of many unnamed heroes of the faith:
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated – of whom the world was not worthy – wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. Hebrews 11:37,38 ESV
When reflecting on these verses our doubts will often scream at us uncontrollably: Does God really protect us from evil?
The Experience of Jesus
And let’s not forget Jesus himself. He had this to say:
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake… Matthew 24:9 ESV
Did Jesus not believe the blessings of Scripture? Did he not believe in his own Father’s protection? We know that when it came to his turn to die, his Father seemed to do very little in the way of his protection.