A prayer for everyone who lives in precarious conditions

It's not a safe world, and sometimes we feel like not even God can protect people.  Psalm 125 was written for Jews or God-fearing Gentiles who had traveled on pilgrimage from places infested with evil to the holy city of Jerusalem. Let's say I am from Galilee, a region that was dominated by pagan culture, and I have come on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. I am standing in the Holy City, looking around at its wonders and rejoicing in God's holiness and majesty. I notice that the city is nestled among mountains and hills, almost like God is holding it in his hands. I think back to my hometown, and I suddenly feel like when I go back home, I will be returning to a place of great evil. I feel vulnerable. Will God be with me there as he is with Jerusalem?

This is the basic mindset of the person to whom Psalm 125 is written. As I reflect on this, I also think of our friends in Haiti. Many of them live in precarious conditions, continually dwelling under the shadow of violence, instability, disease, and starvation. In fact, one of the most difficult aspects of coming home from a trip to Haiti is wondering how the people I love are doing. How are the Senterras? How are the people in the Ravine shanty town? How are the people in the Ceneas tent city? What will happen to the Child Hope kids when they leave the safety of the orphanage? These are haunting questions.

Enter Psalm 125. Here is how it begins:
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.
The Psalm goes on to talk about God's oversight of his children who live in places where evil people hold the greatest power. The message is that it doesn't matter -- God surrounds his people no matter where they live. He holds them in his hands. He does not forget them or leave them alone. Just like the pilgrim doesn't need to be afraid that God will leave him when he goes back home, so we do not need to be afraid that God is not with our friends in Haiti or Honduras or bad marriages or drug and alcohol addiction or you name it. Psalm 125 becomes a prayer for all of us and those we love.


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