When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?”
Psalm 56:3-4 (ESV)

Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully and Pete Fleming. These are the names of the men who died giving their lives for the purpose of sharing the Gospel with the Waorani people of Ecuador. This story has gained much media attention both positive and negative. While some praised these men for their boldness, others have called them reckless and culture destroyers. The same praises and critics have come at missionary John Chau, who died in 2018 by trying to reach the Sentinelese tribe near India. So were these men reckless with their lives?

The reality is that the story did not end here for the Waorani tribe. Elizabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint were able to go back and live among this same tribe that killed their friends and family and share the Gospel with the Waorani. As a result of these men and women’s brave sacrifice, many Waorani now know Jesus. While we dont have the end of the Sentinelese story yet, we can be encouraged by the bravery of these people as they didn’t fear what man could do to them because of the trust they had in their Savior.

Psalm 56 is a Psalm of David from Book II of the Psalms. Psalm 56 goes through this cycle of David being attacked and oppressed by his enemies while he reminds himself that he has no reason to be afraid, because he trusts in his God. The Psalms often go through this cycle of someone being in need and calling out to God in distress while trusting in His deliverance and salvation. In fact, Psalms gives us a glimpse into this honest human struggle and God’s abiding presence in the midst of this struggle. The Psalmist get brutally honest with their struggles, as often they get worn, tired and burnt out of life.

Yet if you look throughout the Psalms, it’s interesting to see that God doesn’t grow weary or tired of these calls for deliverance. In fact it’s quite the opposite, as God enjoys rescuing His people. Psalm 18:19b says that, “he rescued me, because he delighted in me.” (ESV).  What kind of King delights in rescuing people on a consistent basis? If God had our character He would easily grow tired of us, but the Psalms go even further to say in Psalm 40:11 that, “As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” (ESV).

The character of God is on full display throughout the Psalms, as Michael A. Grisanti writes, “One of the most powerful truths in this important book [Psalms] involves its description of Yahweh as the incomparable God of the universe, who reigns with perfect justice and compassion over creation that desperately needs His mercy and praise.” God is like a perfect companion who is there in the midst of struggles and praises. God sees us through the good and bad because He is God in the midst of it all. The Psalms paint a very honest picture of human struggle with the aid of Divine Comfort and Salvation. While the Psalms do not seek to answer why evil, pain and struggle happen, it offers the reader comfort in that they can find solace in a God who cares about human struggle.

The believers in the story of the Waorani tribe is a unique story, as these men and women ultimately did not fear what flesh could do to them. I’m sure there were many nights of fear, pain and struggle as this was a difficult ministry to be called to. This would have been an impossible task without the abiding presence of God who helped these women share the Gospel with the people who murdered their friends and family. Yet just as these brave men and women, we can take comfort in the Lord who is abundantly worth trusting.  As believers we can be encouraged and take comfort because of the character of our God. As our fighter verse shows us this week, we don’t have to be afraid of what man can do to us, because of who our trust is in!

Sources: The Word and the World, Eugene Merril, Mark Rooker and Michael A. Grisanti. 525. “What the Waorani Mission Wrought”, Christianity Today.