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Where to find safety in uncertain times
“The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.” Proverbs 18:10-11
As I write this article in early June 2020, the world is in an unprecedented state of turmoil. There has been a slowdown of most of the global economy. The unemployment rate is the highest that it’s been since The Great Depression and is almost certainly higher than reported. COVID-19 has infected 6.5 million people worldwide which includes over 1.9 million Americans. The US alone has suffered over 109,000 deaths from COVID-19. As all 50 states of the US are in varying stages of reopening, we are seeing spikes in the spread of the virus – especially in the southern states.
The ‘Rona” has hit me close to home as my own daughter recently contracted it while at work as a Human Resources Manager at a senior residential complex.
And then there is the matter of race in America as exhibited in the narratives surrounding the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and most recently, George Floyd. These factors have contributed to the emergence of a ‘perfect storm’ in America. We have witnessed a sociological weather system that consists of outrage, anxiety and economic desperation. In recent days, we’ve seen raw emotions pour onto our American streets in the form of peaceful protests, rioting, looting and violent confrontations with law enforcement officers. And, let’s face it – in view of these calamities, you and I live in a leaderless America as our current president simply doesn’t seem to possess the capacity for that unique brand of unifying empathy that we’ve come to expect from our Commanders-In-Chief in such times of turmoil.
So much in our world can evoke a sense of insecurity and feeling unsafe. The word ‘safe’ means to ‘be protected from or not exposed to danger or risk’. Our most primal fears are connected to our sense of safety (‘What will become of me?’) The scripture passage above seems to indicate that the concept of ‘safe’ extends beyond our feelings. From God’s perspective, true safety is a state of being which He alone can provide.
Safety is a matter of faith
The Biblical text above gives two contrasting objects of faith – God’s name and worldly wealth. The righteous see The Name of The Lord as a ‘fortified tower’ into which they ‘run.’ But the rich see their wealth as a ‘fortified city’ and imagine it to be too high for anything or anyone to threaten them. The righteous are safe because of their faith in God. But the rich only ‘imagine’ themselves to be safe because of their wealth. The text shows us that the righteous are only deemed so because of their unconditional trust in God. Such a person’s sense of safety is never dependent upon the conditions or circumstances that surround them. The rich, on the other hand, have a more temporal connection with safety that is completely dependent upon their ability to procure, grow and sustain wealth. In this sense, the rich have a fragile sense of psychological safety that springs exclusively from their own imagination.
Safety is a matter of perspective
The text tells us that the perspective of the rich is achieved from a self-constructed ‘wall of wealth’ which exists in their minds. But walls tend to crack and crumble over time. For instance, the current volatility of the stock market illustrates that money is an unreliable commodity for providing safety. In contrast, all those who have a relationship with ‘Yahweh’ (I Am) are granted perspective by running into The Fortified Tower of His Name. The word picture seeks to illustrate that trusting in The Lord’s Name immediately deems us safe. This is because our fate is not tied to the growth or containment of a virus nor is it determined by restless presidents eager to restore an American economy. And it surely is not dependent upon the degree of calm, wisdom and restraint when we come in contact with our law enforcement officers. No. Our safety is obtained in The Strong Tower of God’s Character, God’s Promises, and God’s Plan – even when we cannot see these clearly in the midst of a world in turmoil. To put it plainly: God and God alone is the source of our safety.
In biblical times people would build fortified towers on their city walls so that they could see danger coming from all directions. The point here is that it is foolish to build a wall without a tower. No matter how high or strong your walls may be, they still require a watchman. The fortified tower may be a fitting metaphor for the watchfulness of the sovereign God as we find ourselves in midst of troublesome times. When feeling anxious, fearful, in despair or insecure all that we need do is run into the tower that is ‘The Name of The Lord’.
What walls have you built to make yourself feel safe? What do you do when these walls fail to keep you safe? It’s not too late. You can still run into The Tower.
He’s waiting for you.
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