In the Lord’s Prayer, our Savior has folded our hands for us, as parents do for small children, and taught us to pray: “Deliver us from evil.” God does. The very fact that you are reading this proves that you are still here, that God has rescued you a thousand times from perils and plagues that never happened. We give too little thanks for all the times we have been spared simply because those catastrophes, illnesses or accidents never happened.
But there were catastrophes that did happen. Illnesses took their toll. The loss of loved ones broke our hearts. Prodigal children or family strife made life hard. But here too, God kept His promise to deliver us: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 EHV).
God ultimately delivers us from evil when our last hour comes, and He grants us a blessed end and graciously takes us from this world of sorrow to Himself in heaven.
Amid the pandemic in our own day, we cannot discern the future. Moses once said: “The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
The Middle Ages saw the outbreak of the Black Death which killed millions throughout Europe. The Spanish Flu of 1918-1919 claimed more lives than World War I. Public gatherings in large cities were banned…in churches too. Many still recall the fear they felt when polio appeared.
On August 2, 1527, the plague struck Wittenberg, Germany in the days of the Reformation. Luther, along with his friend, Bugenhagen, chose to stay and minister to the flock as best they could. Luther wrote a lengthy letter to Pastor John Hess, the leader of the Reformation in Silesia. The issue was “whether one may flee from a deadly plague.” Luther struck a thoughtful balance, urging trust in God on the one hand, and not carelessly tempting God on the other hand. He placed heavier obligations on those called to serve the public good – pastors, physicians and government leaders. Luther wrote: “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.” Of this we can be sure, that in one way or another, often in ways we cannot see, God WILL deliver us from evil.