Vale of TearsLiving under the Shadow of His Wings
Living under the Shadow of His Wings
The challenge is not how to escape death, but how to sanctify life.
The quicker we are to accept that some situations really have changed for ever, the more rapidly we will move through the grief process. Unless we are dealing with a literal bereavement, however, it is by no means always obvious whether the loss we are experiencing will prove to be permanent.
The chaplain of a local hospital asked David Woodhouse to visit the parents of a seventeen-year-old boy, who had been involved in a severe traffic accident. The doctors were planning to withdraw the young man’s life support, as David recalls:
My head was in a spin – what was I going to say or do? On the short journey to the house, I prayed in tongues and the Lord gave me a verse. On arrival I met the parents and a grandmother, who informed me that as they were leaving the hospital, one of the doctors had told them they had just run a further brain scan which detected life at the lowest level.
So far as I was concerned, that just made my situation worse! Were we to pray for a peaceful death, a full recovery or risk a vegetative state with all its tragic consequences? These were the verses the Lord gave me:
No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trust in You.
We saw the latest scan result as a positive and decided that we could trust the Lord for the best outcome. We stood in the centre of the room with our arms on each other’s shoulders and prayed together. That afternoon I went to the ICU and prayed in tongues at the boy’s bedside. Four days later the lad was on a general ward and none the worse for his accident!
Such outcomes may be rare, but they are such an encouragement! Sometimes, however, the Lord flags up that a season of suffering lies ahead.18 Thus it was, just days after Jesus was born, that Simeon, by the power of the Holy Spirit, warned Mary of the suffering she would experience as a result of what people would do to her Son.
This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but He will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose Him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul. Luke 2:34, 35
During all the years when Jesus was growing up, Mary lived with this awareness of what lay ahead. Jesus Himself intimated clearly to both Peter and Paul the extent of the sufferings they would experience in the course of fulfilling their respective ministries.19 Jesus told His followers that they were to take heart precisely because He has overcome the worst this world can throw at Him. Even when it appears as though we are all but completely overwhelmed, He is careful not to take us anywhere His power cannot sustain us.20
Reflect and Pray
What does living under the shadow of His wings mean to you? It is surely far more than some passive concept of “God up there taking care of matters while I remain groping around in the dark.” It is rather a matter of having the determination to keep seeking the Lord, despite the grief and uncertainties, and trusting Him to be at work, even when you cannot begin to see how He can possibly turn some impossible situation around.
Lord, how priceless is your unfailing love
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 36:7;17:8, 63:7
18 One aspect amongst many of the gift of prophecy is to reveal such things. Eg Acts 11:28; 21:10-11
19 John 21:18-19, Acts 9:16
20 John 16:33
21 Puddleglum was the Marshwiggle in C.S Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia who always considered it wisest to look on the gloomy side of things. Collins (2001). The Lord says to His people through Isaiah, If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all (Isaiah 7:9