Lord, you promised! You promised to deliver us. You told us that you are the shepherd who protects us. You assured us that you are our shade when the intense rays of life’s desert sun seek to take our lives. You said that you would guard our coming and our going. Lord, where are you?
Lord, where were you when my nephew was about to be struck by that metal beam? Couldn’t you have delayed his departure from home that morning by just a few seconds?
Lord, where were you when a crazed gunman was preparing to slaughter unsuspecting concert-goers in Vegas last month?
Lord, where were you when the hurricanes were descending on Caribbean Islands again? You parted seas and walked on water, so why did you not blow the mighty storms into the vacant ocean?
Jesus, you taught us to pray, “Deliver us from evil.” So, where was the Deliverer, and what exactly was the deliverance?
It is so easy to write devotionals and sermons when the going is good. It is easy to talk about God’s promises when we are not walking in the valley of death’s shadow. It’s not so easy when the evil one creates chaos and wreaks havoc. It’s not so easy when we are overcome with grief.
It is not easy to write this today. The one year anniversary of my nephew’s accident and death just passed. People have lost everything in hurricanes and recovery will take years. No one has yet to find a human answer to explain the motive of the Las Vegas killer.
Lost in North American news are global stories. There were more deaths in Syria last month than in other months past. Boko Haram is still kidnapping and murdering civilians in Nigeria. The North Korean leader is still threatening to annihilate his neighbors with nuclear weapons. Myanmar’s Rohingya are living in fear and facing a modern genocide. Venezuela is descending into political and economic chaos. Examples of the presence of evil in our world seem endless.
And so, we cry out to our Father in heaven. Where are you? You promised! Evil seems to be enveloping your world and your children. Your Son told us to pray, and we are praying, “Deliver us from evil.” Why do you seem so silent?
There is no cosmic, thunderous voice from heaven. There is no formula for the right words in prayer to cause God to act. There is no magical genie in the sky waiting for us to rub the right spot on the bottle.
What then do we do? Stop praying? It seems useless anyway, when “ask and it will be given” is met with silence.
No, that is not the answer. Instead, we need to step back. We need to realize and to understand that we have reduced our prayer for deliverance from evil and the evil one to our limited human understanding and to human moments of our finite time on earth.
Jesus taught us to pray. He did not teach us that God was a genie who would make our life perfect and our paths a smooth road. He taught us that we are talking with our Father, and the Father’s will is beyond human time and understanding. It is eternal.
The evil that Jesus was teaching us to seek to be led away from is not the human events that will harm us and will eventually take us from our earthly lives. Instead, the evil Jesus was talking about is the temptation we face that draws us away from our heavenly Father. It is the evil which seeks to destroy the kingdom of God.
Hear again the whole line of the prayer, “Lead us away from temptation and deliver us from the evil one.”
It was Jesus’ prayer for believers that we be drawn closer to him and to the Father. He warned us that the chaos of sin and the enticements of the evil one are intended to lead us from the Father. That is what the evil one tried to do when Jesus was tempted. That is what he tries to do to us, too.
Because of the effects of sin, our lives are finite. Because of redemption, graciously offered by the Father through his Son, our eternity is assured.
For an unexplainable reason, the evil one continues to be allowed to perpetrate evil. His devices and schemes are as old as Eden. His mission is to tempt us and to draw us from the Father. From that mission, Jesus teaches us to pray, “Lead us not toward temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
As those called to lead, it is our calling to be like Jesus and to draw those entrusted to our care to the Father. Part of that is ministering to those who are hurting and assuring them that they will find hope, peace, and comfort when drawn to the arms of the Father.
Deliver us from the evil one who seeks to pull us away from our God.
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services