Tuesday, August 10, 2010

All the comfort I need

Gabby came into our bedroom the other night and was visibly upset. She was having trouble sleeping, and she asked me to read her a comforting Bible verse. I told her, "Bring me my Bible." She asked, "Do you want your fat one?" I told her that my other one would be fine. She returned with my well-worn NIV, and I read for her Psalm 91. A couple months ago The Wall Street Journal featured a powerful photo from Afghanistan. I've been thinking about Psalm 91 ever since. The verse partially quoted in the print edition of the Journal reads,

You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day . . .

You can read the whole Psalm here. I read Gabby the entire Psalm, after which she looked at me and said bluntly, "That's all the comfort I need," and then she ran off to bed.

Lisa was somewhat puzzled why I would read Gabby Psalm 91 as a comfort. Anyone with general knowledge of the New Testament would recognize Psalm 91 as a Messianic Psalm. The devil quoted Psalm 91:11-12 at the temptation of Jesus in Matthew chapter 4. It reads,

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

If even the devil knows that Psalm 91 is a specific promise to the Christ, why would I be reading it to my seven-year old who is seeking comfort? Why wouldn't I try to find a passage that applies to her?

My explanation is simply this: because I am in Christ, I partake in the promises to Christ. Likewise, it is proper for Gabby to seek her comfort from God even if she can't yet understand theologically how the promises apply to her.

Do I think that God will send his angels to keep me from ever stubbing my toe? No, but I believe that the angels guarded the Christ as Psalms prophesies they would. In fact, Matthew 4:11 says, "Then the devil left him, and the angels came and attended to him."

"Where is the comfort in that?" you might ask. The comfort comes from my realizing that the promises to Christ are eternally significant promises. The promise that the Christ would not strike his foot against a stone meant that God would ensure that Jesus, the Christ, would remain an unblemished sacrifice until the time ordained when he would carry my sin into death and grant me hope through his resurrection.

I inherit that greater promise through faith, and I benefit from that greater promise for an eternity . . .

. . . and that's all the comfort I need.

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