Ok, just to let you know up front I didn’t come up with this catchy title on my own. But there is a good story behind it. Back in my early years of ministry Dawes Dunham and I spent a lot of time together while I pastored Bethel Baptist in Prospect, New York. We had known each other for many years prior to my college days and was best man at his and Brenda’s wedding. As I pastor Bethel and found that the daily struggles of being a pastor were causing me to doubt whether or not I should be in the pastorate, Dawes made it very clear to me that if I was truly called to the pastoral ministry then I should not doubt my calling because of the problems I was facing at that moment. Very clearly, he stated, “I have one thing for you, don’t doubt in the dark what you knew in the light!” I will never forget those words and have feasted on them many times for the past thirty plus years of ministry. Now I have no idea if Dawes came up with those words on his own or if he derived them from another source, the truth is it makes little difference to me because his words ring true no matter where they came from.
So you will understand when we read Psalm 91 in light of what we are going through today we immediately are drawn to the contrast of doubt versus trust. I will not write out the whole psalm, but leave it to you to read it at your leisure. But let me share with you three verses, Psalm 91:2, 9 and 10,
Verse 2, “I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’”
Verses 9 and 10, “Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling; no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.’”
Let me say up front that I am taking these verses out of context. Yet, at the same time I don’t want us to lose sight of the bigger picture, of which I hope to make clear by the end of this rambling.
A Lesson From History
As we struggle through these difficult days and wonder why God is allowing this virus to cripple our nation (and also much of the world) we need to keep in mind that this isn’t the first time God has allowed bad things to happen to the Christian and non-Christian alike. C.H. Spurgeon writes about a plague that struck London early on in his ministry there.
“In the year 1854, when I had scarcely been in London twelve months, the neighborhood in which I labored was visited by Asiatic cholera, and my congregation suffered from its inroads. Family after family summoned me to the bedside of the smitten, and almost every day I was called to visit the grave. I gave myself up with youthful ardor to the visitation of the sick, and was sent for from all corners of the district by persons of all ranks and religions. I became weary in body and sick at heart. My friends seemed falling one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was sickening like those around me. A little more work and weeping would have laid me low among the rest; I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it. As God would have it, I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when my curiosity led me to read a paper which was wafered up in a shoemaker’s window in the Dover Road. It did not look like a trade announcement, nor was it, for it bore in a good bold handwriting these words: ‘Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.’ The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window I gratefully acknowledge, and in the remembrance of its marvelous power I adore the Lord my God.”Spurgeon
I don’t know about you but I take great encouragement in Spurgeon’s words as he relates the main thrust of Psalm 91 to the experience he faced. The truth is, the strongest of us will at times struggle when bad things happen to us or to those we know and love. It is only natural for us to be concerned during these trying days. We have brothers and sisters in Christ who are at risk because of age, pre-existing conditions or a number of other factors we don’t know of. But the bottom line is, we can trust God, we can take our refuge in Him because He is like a great Fortress. And as bad as Covid-19 is God can take this bad, evil thing and make it work to the good, for His purpose, for His glory (Romans 8:28).
A Lesson From The Present
I find it interesting at the very least that during this time of trial for our nation that the news networks do not report the specific Christian ministries that are at work helping to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Although the big new companies have mentioned that Samaritan’s Purse has opened a 68 bed emergency field hospital in New York’s Central Park (April 1, 2020) they neglect (to my knowledge) to share the reason why they exist and what their main reason was for helping. Therein lies the reason for why they do what they do. “This is what Samaritan’s Purse does—we respond in the middle of crises to help people in Jesus’ Name.” You can get this quote right off their website and the article that follows.
My point is this, bad things will happen, will continue to happen, and they may even increase. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not a pessimist, but I have lived long enough to know that bad things will continue to go on and maybe go from bad to worse. But in light of that possibility we have an opportunity to shine the light of Jesus Christ on this dark world just like Spurgeon did in his time and just like Samaritan’s Purse is doing in the heart of the battle in New York City at this very moment. They both prove to us that God is good, that He is truly our Fortress, that we can take shelter in Him, and that no plague can enter our dwelling if He is there. Be safe, yes, be smart, use your head, yes, and trust in God’s protection and live for Christ, absolutely!!! Don’t doubt in the dark what you knew in the light!
This is Pastor Pat “From Behind The Desk” wishing you Joy In Jesus!