Not too long ago, I began to make a practice of praying for the protection of God's angels over both myself and others.
It seemed a silly request, at first. I worried that I was implying that God needed help to do His job, that He required the assistance of His armies to protect His children - or that I was calling on ranks too high up for my small and petty plight, for help I didn't fully deserve.
But this week I read Psalm 34, and something changed.
I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.
- Psalm 34:4-7
I've been afraid in the past several weeks - more afraid, maybe, than ever before in my life. Afraid of pain, darkness, and loss. Afraid of grief, mourning, and emotions. Afraid of hurting and seeing others hurt.
I've been carrying these fears to the only place I know to take them - the Throne of Grace - and find that as I haul them, every day, into the Light, I'm able to see them a bit more clearly for what they are:
The fears whisper, "God is too far away to deal with this."
They accuse, "Your concerns aren't worthy of His notice."
They tell me, "There are no angel armies coming to your rescue."
Lies, accusations, and deceit have just one source: Satan, the one Jesus called the "father of lies" himself (John 8:44) - the roaring lion who is constantly in search of someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
But the angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him.
When I read that line, the first thing that came to my mind was that age-old story we've all heard since Sunday school: Daniel in the lions' den.
Daniel, too, was banished to a dark pit by the lies, accusations, and deceit of his enemy - a dark pit filled with hungry lions.
He spent a whole, long night there. I cannot imagine that darkness, almost palpable, with the sound of the beasts breathing so near.
But at long, long last, the sun broke over the horizon and the king of Persia called out, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?"
Then Daniel spoke to the king, "O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him. . . ." . . . So Daniel was taken up out of the den and no injury whatsoever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Daniel 6:22a, 23b
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him.
And He shuts the roaring lion's mouth on behalf of those who trust Him, so that we cannot be devoured by Satan's lies.
That night, two and a half millennia ago in the kingdom of Persia, Daniel's life was not too small or insignificant to be of God's concern.
God Himself defended His servant in the face of the enemy's attack.
And in the scariest place of all - in the dark and dangerous pit - the angel of the LORD was there, a comfort and a protection. An agent of rescue.
God sees. God hears. God cares.
And though it doesn't mean I'm never afraid, it does mean that I can seek Him in my fears and He will answer me. I can carry the burden of Satan's destructive falsehoods to His throne, and find that He defends me and advocates for me, because I've put my trust in Him.
And when I find myself alone in the darkness, listening to words of defeat and despair, I can call on angel armies to close the lion's mouth.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.
For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.”
I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the Lord, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.
The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.
Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.