Fear seems to be all around us and it’s a very powerful thing. It can convince someone to give up their money, their possessions–even their rights. Whether it’s the threat of terrorism, a break-in during the night or the injuries that can come from a car accident, people want to feel they are safe.
In the name of security, people will pay tremendously high prices and do some extraordinary things. We look to alarm companies to protect our homes, car manufacturers for the latest safety devices, the government to protect us from subway bombings and anthrax and our stock portfolios to protect us from economic collapse. Some people even buy guns in an attempt to feel safer. But in the end, do these things really make us feel better? Sometimes they do for a little while, but ultimately, even the toughest security measures can’t provide absolute protection. We simply live in a dangerous world.
Psalm 18:2 says, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (TNIV). If you check a concordance, you’ll find that the Bible refers to God as a “rock” several times. A rock is so simple, yet it’s one of the main ways God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. And this is great theology. People may scratch their heads when you say God is omnipotent or that He exists in three Persons, but everyone understands rocks.
A good rock doesn’t move; it’s strong and secure. It provides protection from the elements and can be used as a defense against potential enemies. By identifying Himself as a rock, God is saying that true security can only be found in Him; everything else is just an illusion. Why, then, do we still worry? And why does it seem that God sometimes allows harm to come to those who are under His protection?
I think of Stephen in the book of Acts. We read that he was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5) and that he was chosen as one of the first deacons in the early Church. He was a man of incredible wisdom and he performed many signs and miracles. So, here’s a guy that was completely sold out for Jesus, yet God allowed him to be stoned to death as one of the first Christian martyrs.
Most people would look at his story and ask where God’s protection went. Where was the Rock when Stephen was being killed? Yet, when I read his story, I am struck by the fact that Stephen was a man without fear. His peace was so firm that his last words were a prayer for those who were stoning him!
I think Stephen had peace because he understood the true nature of God’s security. God did not say that He would provide a rock of protection that we could hide behind, that would keep us out of harm’s way. No, He said that He is the very Rock to which we are to cling, even in the middle of a tragedy. Security is not something God offers; it is part of God’s very nature. And if we are resting in Him, we have that security no matter what happens to us. That’s because nothing–not even death–can separate us from God’s love.
This is not what most people want to hear, though. We’d like to think that God will keep us from hardship, from injury and from death. And I think He does. In fact, I don’t think we’ll truly know just how many times God has provided for us and protected us from earthly dangers until we are in His presence. Still, this doesn’t change the fact that God sometimes allows bad things to happen to His people.
Our peace comes from where our security lies. There’s nothing wrong with taking common-sense measures to be safe–that’s just part of godly wisdom–but true peace can be found only when we are resting in God’s love and nothing else seems to matter.