How Does the Protection of God Work?

(David Jaime) #1

The protection of God has been something that has puzzled me for years. At times I had thoughts wondering who this God is and how He makes His choices with His protection. Here were questions that I compiled in my observation. I would love to hear someones perspective on any of these questions or the topic of His protection in general.

  1. How does the protection of God work?
  2. Is it different for everyone?
  3. If you live wrong is it removed?
  4. If you live right is it removed like it was for Job?
  5. Is our life being protected by God if we live in peace and comfort?
  6. Was the protection of God removed from Jesus and the Disciples by allowing them to be murdered?
  7. Is our protection assigned by God to His angels encamped around us?
  8. If God has set life or death according to our obedience to His commandments, where does the sacrifice of Jesus fit in to this standard if our protection seems to be dependent upon our obedience?

I have concluded that God will protect whom He chooses to protect. We may never understand His protection. What do you think?

(Kathleen) #2

Very insightful and important questions, @david.jaime! Could you clarify a bit on what you mean by God’s ‘protection’? Are you referring merely to the preserving from death or suffering…or harm? So, if a person experiences suffering, then God’s protection has been removed? Just trying to first see where you’re coming from… :slight_smile:

(David Jaime) #3

I would define protection as defined in Webster “to cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction.” I am coming from the angle of losing my daughter but I have come to terms that God is in control regardless of what I “feel.” I just want to hear others perspective on how they understand the protection of God in general.

One of the thoughts I wrestled with when I tried to understand God was this: If things go successful or well for us we say God get’s the glory, If things do not go like we would want that seem to bring pain and harm we say God is in control. I realized I wanted someone to blame for my daughters death. I hope this helps bring an understanding to my angle.

(SeanO) #4

@david.jaime I am sorry to hear of the loss of your daughter. May the God of all comfort strengthen you and fill you with hope each day. In times of tragedy this classic saying often comes to my mind:

We can trust God’s heart even when we cannot trace His hand.

Jesus is the ultimate proof of God’s love for us. He is the clearest image of God we possess. And in His life we see two beautiful truths reconciled - suffering and glory. Our life on this earth as children of God - as Christ ones - contains both suffering and glory. One day the suffering will end forever and we will dwell in the fullness of the glory of Christ. Like Christ, we too experience suffering during our earthly lives. But also like Christ, we too will soon dwell in the Father’s glory.

Regarding God’s protection, I think this list is a summary of thoughts that have helped guide my thinking:

  • God weeps with us when we suffer - He is not aloof from our suffering
  • God is able to save and He does hear all who come in humility and trust
  • God provides rest for those who suffer terribly in this world (think of Lazarus, who rested in Abraham’s bosom after his hardships in this life) and the glory of eternal life is far greater than any suffering we can here experience
  • God does not protect us from the consequences of foolish decisions - the Scriptures expect us to seek wisdom and ask for advice - growing in wisdom is a process that often has bumps along the road
  • God does not guarantee us a life free from suffering, but He does promise to walk with us through the suffering

In the Bible we see a fine balance. God is always strong enough to save - we have absolute confidence in that fact. But we also know there will be suffering in this broken world. We live in the ‘already, not yet’ - Christ has already won victory over death and sin, but He has not yet fully consummated His Kingdom. So we who dwell in the shadowland of death look forward with eager expectation to the day when the true King reigns in glory over the undying land.

New Testament

The New Testament actually teaches us to expect suffering in this world, but to remember that our hope is not in this life. Christ is our life and our glory and in Him we have an inheritance that will never spoil or perish or fade. This world is passing away, but those who do the will of the Lord will remain forever with Him in joy, peace and glory.

John 16:33 - “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:18 - I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

2 Cor 4:17-18 - For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Old Testament

The attitude expressed throughout the OT, even by men like King David, is that God is able to save - He is their defender and shield. And yet if He does not save, still they will obey His commands and keep their eyes fixed on Him.

Daniel 3:16-18 - Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Psalms 119:61 - Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.

Habbakuk 3:17-19 - Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

Your Questions - Some Thoughts

  1. No - God is just and fair - even though each of our stories is different and some suffer more than others, that is not because God’s protection works differently. It is simply the nature of life.
  2. Yes and no. God actually put a mark on Cain to protect him from harm and God makes it rain on the good and the evil. However, yes, God’s special favor does not rest on those who reject Him.
  3. Job was a very special case. God does occasionally test us to see what is in our hearts, but I suspect cases as severe as Job’s case are tremendously rare. And anywho, there would be no way of knowing if such were the case.
  4. Not necessarily. The wicked sometimes prosper (Psalms 73) and the righteous sometimes suffer. But like the rich man and Lazarus in Jesus’ story all ultimately get their just recompense.
  5. No. God allowing us to suffer does not mean His protection has left us. Like Jesus, God sometimes leads us into suffering for His purposes, even though it is hard. John 19:8-11 - When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.
  6. Honestly, I have no idea. The Bible talks about angels as ministering servants, but it is unclear to me whether angels follow us around or whether God by His power guards / guides.
  7. God never said that our life / death were dependent on obedience. What is dependent on obedience is our eternal fate - eternal life or eternal death.

Hope some of those thoughts were helpful. Christ lead you into all wisdom and give you peace / comfort in all situations :slight_smile:

(Cameron Kufner) #5

Thank you for bringing this up. I’ve also pondered on this. I want to live a long life, as does everyone, and I pray to God to protect me and keep me on this Earth until I achieve his will for my life. He is the author and finisher of our faith, and I don’t think he would allow one of his children to go home to Heaven until they achieve his will for their life. That’s just my take on it. I know he is faithful to protect me if I ask him too. I often wonder that if I forget to ask, would that hedge of protection still be there.

(Matt Western) #6

Hi @david.jaime
i just wanted to say I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your daughter - I have no words to say really. I have a 15 year old daughter who means the world to me and who if I lost would mean devastation, and reading your questions to start with, and then hearing you share what you have been through - I cannot imagine your pain and the tough path you and your family have walked.

I read ‘Our Daily Bread’ and there is an author called Dave Brannon who is a regular writer over many years - he lost a teenage daughter Melissa in a car accident. The only thing that comes to me now that he said is “each day that passes he is getting closer to seeing his daughter again”

Praying that God will continue to help you come to terms with your loss and continue to walk with you and be very close to you.
Somehow my words seem very shallow - i can only say ‘I’m sorry for your loss’.
Kind regards

(Armando Bordales) #7

I like how John Piper puts it. He says, whether it is persecution (like that in China) or difficult personal circumstances, the object is really the same, which is to get us to doubt God. And therefore our response should also be the same, which is to hold on to faith and continue trusting God. In today’s Christian world, the word blessing practically means worldly things, whether loved ones and Family members or stuff and material possessions. But i always tend to go back to that passage in Rev 3 where the Lord says, “…buy of me gold tried by fire…” If there is one thing that I can be certain of in this life it is this, that the one important thing in this life is our faith in God. All other else we can do without.

(Stephen Wuest) #8

I think that our expectations affect what we expect God to protect us from.

It’s useful to remember that God created us for good works, which he planned beforehand, that we should live them out (Ephesians). There is a whole life of righteous living that God planned for us to live out.

But God may mean this righteous life to be lived out in hardship, and all sorts of difficult circumstances. The “faith” chapter in Hebrews described ancient saints who lived their lives with incredible hardship. I’m really not sure that an easy life, is a blessing. And the New Testament has all sorts of language that encourages us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, enduring all sorts of difficulty.

God’s kind provision includes not allowing us to be tempted, beyond what we are able to resist. And his guarantee is that he will redeem us both from sin, and the hardships of life in this fallen world.

I don’t think that the example of Jesus’ life, should lead us to expect an easy life.

(David Jaime) #9

I agree. Every challenge is set before us to weaken or diminish our faith or it is sent to strengthen us and expand our faith capacity in Him. All of us have trials in various ways but trust me there is a huge difference in a standard trial versus a trial of “fire.” Where it takes everything in you to stay on course because of the love you have for your own child. You really start to sense what the Father felt as he watched his own son die for no good reason but to save us. But after all has been said and done, to whom shall we go? He has the word of eternal life…

(Stephen Wuest) #10

I guess that I should add, many of the figures in the Bible did not recognize how God was shaping and protecting their lives, until years after difficult events happened in their lives. The kind provision of God, does not seem to include a guarantee that God will be continually explaining, what he is doing in our life, and how it will all work out for the best.

(Kathleen) #11

@david.jaime - My heart broke when I read your initial reply. I am so very saddened to hear of your loss of such a precious person. But thank you also for enabling all of us to walk alongside you a little bit as you continue to process things.

One question that struck me as I read back over your questions was: What do we ultimately need protection from? Exposure? Injury? Damage? Destruction? (…as Webster defines it.)

As I understand it, it seems we are promised that we will experience the first three in this life, but it is the last one that I think we are ultimately protected from. We will all die, yes; but if we are in Christ, we will not be destroyed. We will know loss in this life, but we will not be ultimately lost. If we live long enough, there will be times when we will cry out from the depths of our souls, ‘Meaningless! Pointless!’, but one day we will understand it all in full.

And I agree with you that we may never understand (on this side of things) why each of us lived to certain ages while others did not, but I do not think it will be because God ultimately chose not to protect them anymore. It’s gotta be bigger than that…

(C Rhodes) #12

@david.jaime . The protection of GOD! An amazing and far-reaching subject. So, just for the sake of staying anchored to the pier, I will just offer my perspective on each of your questions.

“How does the protection of GOD work?”

There are so many scriptures that offer an always expanding definition. But the one that comes readily to my mind is Romans 8:28 kjv. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

That confirms for me the trustworthiness of the Lord. The protection of the Lord means that discomfort is not an indicator that the protection of GOD is not present, because the Lord uses even the discomfort to benefit me.

“Is it different for everyone?”

I am reminded of the behavior of parents when considering this question. Although human parenting is just a shadow of the heart of GOD. How we raise our children may have some commonality, but good parenting always considers the individual need. Romans 8:26, 27, 29-31. Ecclesiastes 1:9 kjv.

“If you live wrong is it removed?”

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 38-39 kjv.

When we seek to protect our children, we insist on immediate obedience. It is necessary to our ability to provide protection. It can be fatal if our children do not react in obedience. Their understanding is not necessary, just their trust. The protection of GOD is there for us all; although our sin makes us hard of hearing, defiant in our actions, and arrogant in mistrust. Isaiah 59:1&2 kjv.

“If you live right is it removed like it was for Job? Is our life being protected by God if we live in peace and comfort? Was the protection of God removed from Jesus and the Disciples by allowing them to be murdered?”

I don’t believe the protection of GOD was removed from Job. To assume so would be to assume that protection guarantees no discomfort. I don’t see where the Lord ever left Job. He did allow him to be tempted. But this is more proof of GOD’s individual relationship with each of us. GOD knew the breaking point of Job just as He knows ours. Job 2:3-6, Psalms 103:10-14, and 1Corinthians 10:13.

Never accept the lie from our enemy that GOD is not familiar with the sentiments of your heart, nor the grief for your daughter. He is so present and will continue to be there until you meet her in glory. The death of any child is so painful for me. My heart aches for your father’s heart. But I trust GOD concerning your heart and my own. In time you will be able to see the benefit from such pain. Until that time, GOD knows you, GOD sees you, and GOD is not phased by bearing the disappointment born of your loss. GOD’s love will always call you to His arms, cry when you must but trust Him.

GOD also knows our purpose and potential. So, the notion that things or situations distressful to these bodies and sensibilities indicate whether GOD is protecting us or not, is not a concept that should be settled upon or trusted. All things bend to the purpose of GOD’s will. I don’t believe the measure of that purpose can’t be identified by the pain to our hearts. Mostly because natural death is not a loss, it is a brief separation. The people of GOD even grieve differently.

“Is our protection assigned by God to His angels encamped around us?”

I could not settle on a moment when GOD’s angels were not employed or assigned to do His will. Many of those times they brought judgement to us instead of what we consider protection. Genesis 19:12, 13, 15 & 16 kjv. And sometimes protection as we like to define it. As it was with Daniel in the lion den. Daniel 6:20-22 kjv.

“If God has set life or death according to our obedience to His commandments, where does the sacrifice of Jesus fit in to this standard if our protection seems to be dependent upon our obedience?”

Deuteronomy 11:8, 27-28 kjv. Clearly identifies the best-case scenario if the parameters of GOD are observed while procuring a new land. Because we do reap what we sow. Galatians 6:7 kjv. I don’t believe that means we will die a natural death if we do not obey His commandments. GOD rains on the just and the unjust. Matthew 5:45-48 kjv. GOD grants protection to a fallen world just by being present. We don’t know what it is like to live unprotected.

But we do know what choosing sin will do to our World. We also know even while living in a World cylinder in its sinful impact, GOD remains worthy, glorious, and loving. Humanly that can be very difficult to understand.

Death was given to us in Eden. However, it is not a sign that we have been disobedient, punishment is the true indicator.

(Armando Bordales) #13

Amen to that! Stay strong. See you around. :wink:

(Elias Kruger) #14

@david.jaime, I join with others here expressing how sorry I am for your loss. I pray that the Lord of comfort will be near even as He may seem far.

I confess that I’ve been somewhat dissapointed at some of the responses here. I find it amazing how quick we are to dish out Bible verses without really listening to the question at hand.

There are different types of suffering and loss. There is disciplining and then there is tragedy. I certainly do not believe that God allowed your daughter to die to discipline you. That would be just cruel and against God’s nature of love.

I think the classical view that God is omnipotent and all-powerful is what creates this difficult dilemma. How can a loving God allow senseless suffering in the world? I have found some recent theological proposals that challenge that notion. At the heart of it is the idea that God, simply cannot prevent certain events. That is, while God is always loving, He is also limited in His action in the world. That is what is now known as the “Open and Relational view of God.” God is always loving but limits his action in the world in respect of human and nature’s free will.

I have found a recent book by Thomas Jay Oord that puts forth this proposition in a lot better terms that I could ( I understand that this proposal flies in the face of classical theistic view and may be difficult to reconcile with some passages of Scripture. However, it does capture God’s essence well. I am not necessarily a believer in it but do think is a proposal worth exploring.

With that, I humbly offer this point of view to you and the group as a point for examination. If that is of any help to you on your journey, then great.

(Matt Western) #15

I have a thought in relation to question 7.

John Lennox put it so well when we is asked about suffering. He doesn’t really answer the question in a comprehensive way but asks a new question “What is God doing on a cross, suffering at the hands of his creation?”.

Jesus, speaking to Peter, said after he cut of Malchus ear:

But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will [a]perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?

My thought is: What must the angels have been thinking, as they watched Jesus die on the cross. All through the Bible, Angels have incredible power and move to do God’s will, but they are also not just robots, and like us have individual will and thoughts (demonstrated by the decision of fallen angels to reject God’s authority). 1 Peter 1:12 states that angels desire to look into the Gospel.

In relation to point

  1. How does the protection of God work?

I’d just like to share briefly a personal story, and this is the sanitised ‘church version’ that everyone knows. My mother-in-law was recently run over by a car, and spent 3 weeks in hospital, and is now almost better, and we are hugely grateful that she is still alive, and has no life-changing injuries (ie wheelchair etc). My father-in-law was in control of the car when the accident happened.

The reason I share this, is to share a short discussion that I had with my father-in-law, as my wife and I have been through some deep waters together about 13 years ago (miscarraige, and mental illness + and then 10 years ago my wife lost all hearing and has a cochlea implant today). I have tried to come to terms what has happened in our lives and was asking him about Romans 8:28 passage.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I still struggle with it and I wondered if ‘all things working together for good’ = ‘to them that love God’ might be that my personal tough circumstances are working together for the good of others in our family or church circles, not just myself.

My father-in-law had a different take on it; ‘all things’ include tragedies and accidents that are as a result of living in a fallen world (all things are broken including ourselves, as I have just listened to the recent live stream RZIM ‘How can I know my gender’). God then takes those broken pieces; the ‘all things’, and makes them into something good, both personally and collectively in our family and churches.

My mother-in-law shared (in a testimony to the church, so again I think this is ok to share here) that she felt that God was quite near whilst under the car, and that she was ready to go be with Him. She said she cannot explain it, because it sounds ‘weird’ to explain it but it was like He was right there.

In answer the question “How does the protection of God work?”, I have no idea whatsoever. My positive question of this experience I ask is 'Why is my mother-in-law not dead or disabled?". I have no idea whatsoever of that question either.

@Elias_Kruger ; regarding peoples various responses being disappointing, this is normal for any ‘church’ gathering, there is such a wide variety of people, who themselves have been through many deep waters too - and we have to take into account the many personality types, and the fact that there may be people on the forum in which english may not be a first language. The results of words shared might feel shallow (as I said in my first post), and even as I typed my first message my words of intended comfort, it felt very shallow - not having been through the same tragedy of losing a daughter. I can only imagine, given my love for my own daughter, what it might be like, but I can never know actually what it is like unless I have travelled the same road.

I also think that in churches (as in real life), hurting people; hurt others. That is, if someone has a wall up, and responds strongly in anger to my reaching out to them, they are probably hurting deeply as well; it’s natural to put up a wall to protect yourself against further hurt against those who you do not trust. Our ‘job’ as Christians is to try to take the hits, but realise it’s not personal, and look past the pain and the walls that are up and see the person for whom Jesus died; (my take on Ravi’s “Behind every question is a questioner”)

I also think that it’s actually very hard to convey empathy and feelings and real ‘depth’ in written words with no facial expressions or the ability to give a hug or shake hands at the end of a conversation. We all can only try out best including sharing verses that have helped us personally during tough times in our own lives. I do agree though, that we collectively don’t want to be like Job’s ‘miserable’ comforters - the first 7 days they had it right and just sat in the ashes with Job in silence. I feel the same, when I speak, I think some of my words will be wrong and just like Job’s friends - this doesn’t mean I don’t care or don’t try to help though. (just some thoughts, hopefully some helpful ones :slight_smile: )