We are bombarded with messages about protection and security every day.
The ever-present message of having safe sex…for our protection. TSA at the airport gives us a little love (!)… for our protection. We’re strongly encouraged to get the most up-to-date security software on our computers… for our protection. Install an alarm system at our house… for our protection. Carry a gun or take a self-defense class… for our protection. You get the idea.
Protection. It’s a version of love we crave and at the same time sacrificially and willingly give to those closest to us. In reality, I’d say the notion that security is one of our greatest fundamental needs is accurate, to say the least.
We long to receive it from our significant other. We briefly contemplate putting our kids in some kind of foolproof bubble and sending them to school just to protect them. We want to receive it from our friends; we want them to have our backs. We hope somehow that our employer won’t screw us over. We naively hold on to the ridiculous thought that our bank account can somehow protect us in some way.
We open our Bibles and they are filled with countless stories of God’s protection many of us can recount from our childhood. David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17), Queen Esther (Esther 1), Baby Moses (Exodus 2), and Daniel in the Lions Den (Daniel 6) just to name a few. All these stories reflect God’s protection over His people in tangible, seemingly impossible situations.
Flip over to the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, mentions four specific attributes of love that are “always” put into action. The first of these is that love “always protects” (NIV). It has been said that the Greek word for “protects” is stegei, which literally means “to cover” and includes the idea of protecting and perseverance. (www.gotquestions.org)
1 Corinthians 13:2 says that if we have all the listed spiritual gifts (solve all mysteries, have all knowledge, have all faith) but we don’t use these spiritual gifts with love, “we are nothing” and it benefits no one. Love must be added to every equation in order to make a difference.
God’s version of love always protects. It’s never about ourselves. It can handle all the pooh life can throw at us. And whenever one of us lays an egg, love has the ability to cover and protect it. (“Love covers a multitude of sins.” – Proverbs 10:12) Which doesn’t excuse poor or abusive behavior because there are consequences for sin. It does mean we come beside and lift up what is weak, defend the defenseless and forgive what normally would be impossible.
We hear and read about God’s protection and yet we sometimes have a slight pause in our mind questioning that provision. If God really protects, why did/didn’t He__________________? How about this…when trying to explain all the hard stuff we’re hearing on the news lately to our kids, how do you explain God not protecting innocent young girls just trying to excel in gymnastics and why does there have to be a movement called #MeToo?
I get that. I’ve had some questions of my own through life’s journey.
We’re so human. We want to see God’s protection as some kind of Star Wars force that is with us keeping us from all harm. We have to pause and remember to remind ourselves that we live in a fallen world where we have free will and people (and we) get it wrong sometimes. And God works in ways we just don’t understand. Sounds cliché-ish, right? But it doesn’t make it any less true.
If love talks, it says words that shield. Words filled with kindness. Words of protection.
Know anyone who could use some protection? Then don’t hold back. Love like Jesus.
“God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, Before the rush and roar of oceans and tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.” – Psalm 46:1-3 MSG