Some memories stay with you forever. I distinctly remember one winter break during my youth. I was fifteen years old, and a blizzard was unleashing its fury over our small Minnesotan suburb, bringing in three feet of snow, and covering everything outside in a layer of white. It was negative ten outside, and I could feel the chill seeping through the edges of the windows. It was a few days before Christmas and I found myself huddled in a corner of my family’s living room, knees to my chest, watching the snow fall. I looked up at the cloudy sky and began to pray, “God, I need your peace.”
My prayer was born of loneliness. I was a tall, gangly Indian American girl living in a non-Indian community, and I had a hard time making friends. When the holidays came around, I wasn’t invited to my classmates’ Christmas parties or skiing outings or just the occasional hangouts with sledding and hot chocolate. Granted, I look back now as an adult woman and think, “No big deal. I didn’t need to go to those parties.” But as a teenage girl, I felt that isolation and social rejection keenly. I hated being a misfit and feeling unwanted.
The more I think about that moment – huddled in the corner of my living room, praying – the more I realize, what I was really asking God for was His protection. Protection from the unkindness of cliques and the unwanted mental battles that come when you feel no one wants to be your friend. Protection from lashing out, from believing lies, or even from returning meanness in kind.
I didn’t think I was really doing anything deeply theological at the time; it was just a cry for help. But what I’ve learned over the years is that God’s true peace, the shalom that He promises us, has a distinctly protective nature to it. When we ask God for His shalom, we are asking for His mighty hand of protection.
Philippians 4:7 tells us, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I love the word “guard” in this verse. God’s peace guards us. The Apostle Paul, who wrote the book of Philippians, pictures God’s shalom as a garrison keeping guard over our hearts and minds, protecting us from emotional, mental, and spiritual assaults. God’s peace can protect our inner well-being.
We are all living in the midst of so much heartache and loss. The effects of the pandemic certainly. But I’m also thinking about the everyday mundane pains that tax our hearts and minds and wills. Like the betrayal of a friend, losing a job, broken family relationships, unanswered prayers, a child with a terminal illness, a cruel boss, a cancer diagnosis, an unhappy work environment, the inability to pay the bills, or the death of a spouse.
In our darkest moments, God’s shalom offers us protection. God might not take away the infertility or the sting of betrayal or the grief of losing a family member or financial troubles, but He promises that those of us who trust in Him will have an inner calm in the face of life’s storms.
God is shalom. It is one of His attributes. Deep, true peace is who He is by nature. When we seek Him out, when we come to God on our knees in our living room, in prayer while driving our car, in the whispers of our thoughts as we enter our places of worship on Sundays, or in deep, heaving sobs by someone’s death bed, what we receive is the peace of God’s presence. We receive the peace of who He is, and that peace places a hedge of protection over our hearts, our minds, and our will.
In the midst of difficult seasons, we can pray, “God, protect me with your shalom.” God’s shalom is the promise of wholeness, of being able to flourish – emotionally, mentally, spiritually – even when life doesn’t feel worth living anymore.
God wants to carry you through whatever difficulty you’re facing today. You might not be able to see it now as you wade through the trenches, but someday you’ll be able to look back on this dark time and see the ways He protected you, the ways He opened new doors, and brought you into a place of joy that you couldn’t have ever imagined before.
Someday you’ll be able to look back and see the ways in which you’ve become a different person, for the better; the ways you’re stronger now, more courageous, perhaps even kinder — because you sought out God’s shalom as protection over your life and sat in the refuge of His arms.
May each of us know and rest in the protection of God’s shalom.
Praising God today for His shalom peace that calms and protects us! Thank you for this reminder.
Thank you for this message. I am truly in such a dark place and need His Shalom more than words can say.
Such a great Truth!
Robyn, may God place His Shalom in the most deepest part of you, protecting and keeping you safe. I pray his light will guide you out of the darkness.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
– Jesus Christ
Ruth Mills says
What a beautiful protection He offers us even before we know to ask! Blessings!
Janet Williams says
Thank you Michelle. I love your message today. So true that “God has not always taken away my “trenches” but when I look back I see the ways He protected me, my loved ones and even my not so loved ones. The ways He opened new doors, and brought me into a place of joy and peace and good that I couldn’t have ever imagined before” I am so grateful! My trenches make my strong in Him. Strong in things I never thought I’d be strong in. Thank you Lord \0/
“May each of us know and rest in the protection of God’s shalom”.
Deborah Rutherford says
Beautiful. Thank you, God, for your shalom.
Thank You Lord for Your great and precious promises and Your faithfulness to perform them in Your timing. Thank You for Your peace which surpasses understanding. You are a great God all the time❤️
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Michelle thank you for this reading. All my life I had only a few friends at school not that many. Then when they and we have left school. They have seemed not to want to keep in touch some of them. The ones that did keep in touch two sisters. Love 86 miles away from me and I only see them if they are going to put flowers on their Parents Grave. Which is just 15 miles from were I live. They are so good to me even if we don’t see either that often. They email me or text me now and then to see how I doing. Which is so lovely they pray for me. Both saved. I have another friend who is only 15 miles away from my house. Don’t see her that often as she is busy in her own life. So I do at times get down wish I had another friend who was saved. That I could go for prayer walks with and coffee and have a laugh with see at least on a month or once every two months. But it used to get me down all this. But now I am thankful for the friends I don’t see that often. That God gave them to me. When we do meet up we have a wonderful time together. My Husband said to me one time I was down in one of my Darkness moments. Over not having a friend who would want to and be able to see me more. That if I needed prayer or she did or just to talk about something we could when we met up. My Husband said Dawn don’t let it get to you. You don’t have a friend like that. That you want that would be able to spend more time with you. I tried to make friends with people they just don’t want to know. My Husband said that is their loss. They are loosing out in getting to know the wonderful person you are. Look at it this way you got friends who live 86 miles away that care and one that lives 15 miles away. Even though you don’t see them that often. They care and are there for you. They pray for you. That is more important than people who don’t want to know you. I had dark moment over other things in my life that have happened. No my fault. But only for God being there saying to me Dawn you show them you have forgiven them and still love them in me. Remember they are not saved. So they don’t care they caused you pain by the things they done. But until they do they will not change that is so true. Since forgiving them. I see them in a different light. Can talk to them differently. I never forget what they done. But it doesn’t annoyed me. I learning to love them like Jesus does. Live my life for Jesus in front of them. Hopefully they will see the love of Jesus in me. Want what I have. I pray for their salvation. I thank God he gives me the strength to do all this he is there for me in all my Dark moments. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little in my prayers all you incourage. Xx
Thank you Jesus for allowing you to provide this testimony to me and for me. I so needed to see this! God you are so good to me, even during my times of distress, misunderstanding, not understanding, and not knowing. Thank you Lord! Shalom!!!
Oh how I needed this today. Thank you, sister.
Ariel Krienke says
God’s strength and peace gets us through when the world beats down on us because we are Christians
Beth Williams says
Jesus said we would have trials & tribulations down here. Those trials build us up & make us stronger. In 2015 I quit my full time job to be care giver for my dad. One day visiting him during lunch his tremors were bad & he was having trouble feeding himself. I offered to do it & he nodded yes. Two men were sitting on either side of us. The one to the right said “You will get stars in your crown for this”. I felt like God was talking to me. Fast forward 6 years. I was working part-time as clerical in large hospital. Had volunteered to work full time till my co worker could get arm fixed. In the midst of this they shut my unit down & moved me to a Covid ICU unit mid November. I was a bit nervous at first. Working there I learned to make IV chains (IV with 4 extensions). One day I decided (out loud) to get up & make some for the RNs. December that year they “gave” me a fulltime benefitted position—basically wrote a job description just.for.me! Talk about God blessing the socks off me!