Can We Always Count
on God's Protection?
What I Learned from personal tragedies
By J. Stanley McCluskey
We often think of wonder- ful Bible promises, such as Psalm 91—especially verses 11 and 12: “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” But have you ever had to wonder: WHERE ARE THOSE ANGELS?
Five Personal Tragedies
My dear wife, Betty, and I have been in five major auto accidents, all causing severe injuries:
1. The first happened as I was kneeling down in the dark one night, trying to install chains to the wheels of our vehicle, with Betty holding the light. Suddenly, a car slid across the road and sent me flying over the back of our car and down a bank. I was banged up pretty bad in the hit-and-run accident. And while I was laid up in the hospital, I couldn’t help wondering: Why didn’t the angels protect me in that situation?
2. On the Alaska Highway, then just a seldom-traveled gravel road, our car rolled over and over, before landing on a bed of rocks. Betty and I were injured and our car totaled; but we worried most about our children. Three-year-old Ronald made no complaints; but 1-year-old Harvey was badly injured, and just wouldn’t stop crying. No medical help was available within 200 miles, and no one was able to take us there for two days.
We hear great stories in which it is certain that God has provided protection. But as we review our own lives, that protection often seems missing.
Talk about stress and worry! Where were our angels?
3. We were driving along a main road, when a car suddenly came from a side street and hit the door right where Betty was sitting. You can just imagine the injuries! And our car was a total wreck. The driver of the other vehicle said the sun had blinded him. But why didn’t the angels protect us?
4. We were driving home over a mountain pass when it started to snow—the first snowfall of the season. As we reached a narrow area, with a hill on one side and a sharp drop-off on the other, a car slid across the highway and hit us head-on. Betty was very seriously injured; but I was able to hobble over and check on the people in the other car. The two elderly women in it said we were an answer to their prayers, because we had kept them from going over the bank.
But why hadn’t the angels also protected us?
5. In this final incident, a big pickup truck hit us on the driver’s side, injuring both Betty and me severely, and leaving me unable to work. Making things worse, the other driver had only minimal insurance, so we had to use up most of our own reserves to cover expenses.
Why was this happening to us? WHERE WERE THOSE ANGELS?
Understanding the Promises
We hear great stories in which it is certain that God has provided pro-tection. But as we review our own lives, that protection often seems missing. Do angels help some of God’s people more than they do others? Do they just help at certain times and places?
What about David—who probably wrote the Psalm before us? He spent many years running for his life, didn’t he? And how about Christ, who after His baptism was led out into the wilderness, remaining without food or water for 40 days? Ironically, the devil himself quoted from Psalm 91 to Him: “If You are the Son of God,” he said to Jesus, “throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone’” (Matt. 4:6).
But notice that something was missing from what the devil said. “When Satan quoted the promise, ‘He shall give His angels charge over thee,’ he omitted the words, ‘to keep thee in all thy ways’; that is, in all the ways of God’s choosing” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 125). “In all your ways acknowledge Him,” the Bible says, “and He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:6).
This way “of God’s choosing” does not assure us an easy life, but it does assure His protecting care.
Consider these encouraging words: “The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ…. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord’s permission, and ‘all things’ that are permitted ‘work together for good to them that love God.’ Romans 8:28” (Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 71).
This permission by God is evident in the experience of Job. When Satan wanted to tempt him with trials, God set the limits. And as with Christ when He pleaded in the Garden of Geth-semane for relief, God deals with us in terms of both time and eternity. Satan is always seeking our destruction; and Christ warned us to expect diffi-culties. But God will use every trial for the building of our characters.
Paul explains this in Romans 5:1-5. Not only should we appreciate the peace and assurance that come in a faith rela- tionship with Christ, but we should also rejoice in tribulations, “knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and char- acter, hope. Now hope does not dis-appoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Ellen White put it this way: “The fact that we are called upon to endure trial shows that the Lord Jesus sees in us something precious which He desires to develop” (The Ministry of Healing, p. 471).
And yes, the angel of the Lord does encamp round about those who fear Him, and does deliver us from any lasting harm, according to the plan of our loving God (see Ps. 34:7; Jer. 29:11). The eternal God surely is our refuge “and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27).
So let’s take heart. His promises of both protection and care are sure. Hear the words of that last passage (Jer. 29:11): “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” “Fear not,” God says in Isaiah, “for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).
J. Stanley McCluskey is a retired pharmacist and health care administrator. He writes from Naches, Washington, U.S.A.