Psalm 16:8 “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
What is it that makes you feel secure about your future? Is it your investment portfolio or your 401K plan? Maybe not after the high inflation and economic uncertainty this past year. Is it your healthy diet, your faithful exercise regimen? Perhaps we should remember people like Jim Fixx, author of The Book of Running, who died of a heart attack at the age of 45, or Olympic record holder Florence Griffith Joyner, who died of a seizure at the age of 38. Maybe exciting advances in medical science give you hope. But as soon as we find a way to control one disease, something new like COVID 19 comes along. It is difficult–no, it is impossible–to find that kind of settled security in this world we all long to have. And the Lord has good reason for making sure that it is so. C.S. Lewis remind us, “The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God….Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but he will not encourage us to mistake them for home” (The Problem of Pain, p. 115).
David wrote the words of Psalm 16, but the Apostle Peter revealed in his Pentecost Day sermon that he was really speaking for and about Jesus when he said, “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” The truth that God is always with us, that he is present in every place at all times, is familiar to us all. Even a large number of non-Christians believe that God, whoever he is, is present all the time.
Unfortunately, we let that truth devolve into a religious theory. We say we agree with it, but in practice we tend to forget it. This is why we fall apart, we quiver like Jell-O, when life doesn’t go our way. This is why pandemics, runaway inflation, and an increasing number of crimes fill us with fear.
It’s not as though God has abandoned us. Our worry and anxiety are self-inflicted wounds. In our weak faith we act as though we didn’t even have a God, much less one who is with us at all times. The fault is all our own.
For Jesus, this truth was never merely a theory. It was what enabled him to go ahead with the sacrifice for our salvation in spite of all he suffered, in spite of all the opportunities he would have had to avoid it. Jesus set the Lord always before him. He was always, always conscious of the fact that his heavenly Father was at his right hand. Remember how the author of Hebrews describes it? “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). No one had to tell Jesus to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane when the dread of the sufferings ahead of him weighed on his heart. He always set the Lord before him. He was assured that the Father was at his right hand, and that he would return to the right hand of his Father. He was not shaken from his mission to sacrifice himself for our sins.
That Jesus not only died, but also rose three days later, only increases our security that God is with us. Paul tells us that Jesus was raised to life for our justification. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is a sprawling banner shouting that we are no longer guilty of our sins. His payment on the cross was acceptable and successful.
Do you know what that means for us? It means that when we set the Lord before our eyes, we aren’t looking at an angry and offended giant getting ready to squish me. The God who is with us is the One who so loves us that he gave everything to save us from our sins, and he isn’t going to let our present troubles separate us from him.
Jesus’ resurrection means that when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we aren’t just bringing up memories of another dead hero from the past. He is the living Savior. He is genuinely present with supernatural, divine power. He promises to be with us always, even to the end of the age. That is reason to feel genuine security right now.