1You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, 2 will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” 10 no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot. 14 He who loves me, I will deliver; I will protect him who knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue and honor him.
Remember being a little child, and going to the surgeon for a vaccination? I can remember very clearly, sitting on the doctor’s chair with my mother just beside me. I was a pudgy cheeked five year old, and terrified of needles. Nothing the nurse could say would ease my anxiety. All I could do was close my eyes, and hold tight to my mother’s hand. I still remember her words, ‘I’m here. This might hurt a little but it will be over soon.’ As I read through Psalm 91, I heard the words of God echoed in my mother’s voice, ‘I will be with [her] in trouble.’
The subject of the psalm alternates between I, he, and you, relating a personal conversation between a man and his Lord, moderated by the psalmist. The Lord is introduced as Almighty, Most High, Refuge and Fortress, and the man is the one who lives in the shelter. The man proclaims sincere trust in the Lord, and the Lord in return pledges comfort and protection. Take note, God does not promise that the man will live a life without trouble. Rather, God promises to be with him in his trouble. Like the comforting grasp of my mother’s hand as the nurse approached with the needle, the Lord is ever present to us in life’s stings.
The authors of Mathew and Luke sought to emphasize this point when they chose to quote psalm 91 in the story of Christ’s temptation. The Tempter asks Christ to recklessly place himself in danger, knowing that the Lord ‘will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. Knowing the true benefit of trust in the Lord, Jesus does not invite trouble upon himself. Jesus did not live an untroubled life on earth, indeed he suffered greatly but the Lord was ever present with him. We do not need to invite trouble. It will find us in time, and ever the Lord will be with you, as well.
A friend of mine lost a loved one to cancer a few years ago. After a healthy amount of grief, denial and anger, she found that she was remarkably grateful to have loved someone so dearly as to miss them so greatly. God does not wish any of us to suffer but sometimes pain is just unavoidable. Sometimes trouble comes to the most cautious. Sometimes injury is a consequence of living well. In these moments, we have, at least, the comfort of knowing we are not alone, and the assurance that our suffering will not last forever. We have a hand to grasp. The Lord is with us in our trouble.
Kate Balmforth, International Volunteer
 Psalm 91:11-12, Mathew 4:6, Luke 4:10-11