“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.” Psalm 28:7
How is it that you can read a verse in Scripture several times and appreciate the words found therein, but, on any given random day, you could read it and it takes on a whole new meaning? Jesus does have a tendency to use His Word in our lives in that way. One morning in the last week, I experienced this again. I was reading during my daily coffee with Jesus and I read about how the Lord is our shield. It struck me with fresh wonder–this concept of the Lord being our shield. I couldn’t shake it. Rather than just read the words, I tried to envision what that would look like. God as my shield. Two images of shields popped into my mind. First, I thought of Captain America’s famous shield. I have sons and am quite familiar with this specific shield. The second image was this picture of the Knights of the Round Table, Camelot, Sir Lancelot, and the shields that were used as part of the armor. I saw this massive, old, and heavy piece of armor. I wrestled with this concept of God as a shield and tried to visualize what that meant for me and in my life. More than once in the Psalms, we read the phrase “The LORD is my shield.” David was well-familiar with battle and with his enemies coming after him. David more than anyone understood the significance of having a shield of protection. David needed the shield of the Lord around him, both physically and spiritually.
I started thinking and asking myself some questions, what is the purpose of a shield? When would someone need a shield? Why a shield? The purpose of a shield is to protect or to guard someone or something from something that is dangerous, from attacks, from unpleasantness. A shield is a defensive weapon. Naturally, one would require a shield when one is being attacked or at risk in some way from something dangerous. The fact that the Lord was David’s shield in Psalm 28 resulted in increased trust in God and songs of rejoicing. The simple yet profound truth of God being my shield means that God will surround me with His protection from attacks from the external world around me, threats from the enemy of my soul, internal arrows directed at myself, and fiery darts from my fellow man. Note, it never says that attacks won’t come, but that the Lord is our shield. What has become so common in Christian circles of thinking is that to follow Jesus means insulation from hard and difficult things. Sadly, there is this increasingly popular school of thought that says that to follow Jesus means that life is good all the time. That is faulty reasoning and, quite frankly, the opposite of what is found in the Scriptures. Jesus said the world hated Him first and that the world would hate His followers. Jesus was perfect and lived a sinless life, yet during His time on earth, He faced rejection from His family, abandonment by His friends, ridicule out of the mouths of His enemies. He was not immune to the harsh realities of living in the fallen world. He experienced it fully. No, we definitely are subject to persecutions, hardships, difficulties, broken-heartedness, and various other forms of pain. Yet, in the midst of all of the above, God promises to be our shield. Attacks will come from all directions, and they will come in all shapes and sizes but they will not take us out. God places His shield around us to keep us safely in Him in the midst of all of the danger, pain, and unpleasantness of being human. He promises to be our strength during times of attack. For God to be our strength and our shield offers us a double layer of protection. If we were immune to attack then we would have no need for the shield and the protection of God.
Uncertainty has become the newest household member of life in the 2020s. But we love and serve a God who knows, a God who shields, and a God who strengthens in the midst of all of the uncertainties. Probably like many of you, I want to know that everything will be okay. Honestly, it would also be a relief to know how everything will be okay and what the outcome will be. Yet God doesn’t operate like that with us. He asks us to trust Him with all of our uncertainties. He asks us to release our vise-grip on fears, worries, and anxieties. I am learning that His shield is what protects me as we forge through the mountain of adversity rather than escape it or circumvent it. His shield is my cushion of comfort even when the attacks are raining down from every direction. His shield surrounds me with His love and provides me with the certainty that regardless of the outcome, I am His. He will never leave me nor abandon me. His shield is wide enough to absorb all of my tears and His strength carries me through even the hardest of times. His shield provides protection from the internal assault my thoughts can hurl at me.
The last few weeks in our house have been full of unexpected twists and turns, which is probably why the verse struck a chord with me when I read about how the Lord is my shield. Honestly, wouldn’t we all rather just be shielded from the tough stuff in life rather than shielded against them? Withdrawing is my go-to defense mechanism, but God has this way with me that pulls me into Him rather than into myself. He can handle my hurting questions. He can take it when, in my rawest state, I ask Him if it is worth it. God is so gentle and so kind with me. He welcomes my questions and even reveals to me what the real question is I am struggling to articulate. What He wants from me is to trust Him. And not just trust Him when all is right in my world and when I can see clearly what the outcome is or which path to take. Jesus treasures our relationship. Jesus has been faithfully showing me that He never leaves me, just as He has been teaching me to anchor myself in Him in the midst of the unknown and in the midst of the difficulty. I have found myself asking Him several times in the last week, what is it I need to learn from this? What are You trying to teach me during this season of life? The other question I have posed to Him is what is the work that God is trying to accomplish but the enemy is determined to interfere? Walking by faith has taken on an entire new dimension for me. I am taking one step in front of another and embracing the messy, embracing the chaos, embracing the uncertainty because I know that every step of the way God is in control.
So, this shield with which He surrounds me–I no longer see it as this Captain America weapon being held up to fend off the attacks from all around. Instead, I see this shield as encompassing me on every side and providing a barrier and shielding me as I journey from valley to mountaintop and everything in between. And His strength propels me forward, one foot in front of the other. With Jesus as our shield, we can find rest, reprieve, and recharge even in the most troubling of circumstances. Accept the gift of His shield!