“The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.” Psalm 121:7

Is this even true? It doesn’t really feel true. I mean, think about it… have you been kept from “all evil”? It doesn’t feel like I have. In fact, on the day that we studied this passage together in preparation for writing this devotional, my family and I were experiencing something that is objectively pretty evil.

On the Sunday prior, Beth’s uncle did the greeting and announcements in his church’s worship service and then just passed out. There was no warning. The paramedics were called, they gave him CPR and rushed him to the hospital. He had experienced a cardiac arrhythmia that led to a stroke and by the time of our study, he was completely paralyzed, unresponsive, and hours from death. It was absolutely tragic! I couldn’t help but think that this was a clear example of the evil that has infected our world as I read the words of this psalm. I couldn’t help but ask the question, “Why didn’t the Lord keep our family from all evil?”

Now, if you ever run across a passage of scripture that doesn’t seem to be true, it is a good indication that something is wrong. Not wrong with scripture, because it cannot fail us, but often something is wrong with our understanding of scripture. You see, while the scriptures are the words of God, the way we interpret those words can sometimes just be our own words. We have to have the humility to recognize that.

This situation was an instance in which my interpretation of this passage failed. However, I was given a new perspective by one of Beth’s cousins who had just been in the room during her dad’s last moments of life. Here is the text that she sent:

We had a sweet time of singing with dad. He opened his eyes several times as we sang It is Well, Be Thou My Vision, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Be Still My Soul, and Country Roads (yes, the John Denver song… they’re from West Virginia, what can I say?). We read some scripture. We prayed a few times, hugged him, and left while they took the tubes out.

What could be so “sweet” about saying goodbye to your father? How could such a terrible event be oddly beautiful at the same time? This was definitely evil. All death is evil, but clearly, this wasn’t “all evil.” It seemed to me that even in the face of clear evil, Jesus had kept this situation from “all evil.” Maybe this promise isn’t a promise God will keep us from every instance of evil, but a promise that God would save us from experiencing the full extent of the power of evil. While the evil was undeniable, God’s love and beauty broke through. We did not experience the totality of evil.

Sure enough, Beth’s uncle passed away within hours of those tubes being removed. His physical life ended, but his family could rejoice because they knew that his real life was just beginning. So it would seem that the promise is true after all. Not that evil wouldn’t touch us, but that God’s love and goodness will always win in the end!

Josh Rose
Teaching Pastor

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