Three Years Ago Today

I realized a few days ago that I was approaching a very difficult Psalm in my quiet time, Psalm 91. June 7th, 2017, the day before Sarah left for her mission trip never to return, I spent a prolonged amount of time meditating on and praying Psalm 91 over her, petitioning God in His faithfulness to care for and protect my precious child.

I believe it is providential that my daily scripture reading through the book of Psalms has me reading this exact Psalm three years later to the day, June 7th, 2020. When I first realized it was aligning that way I hesitated and considered altering my reading plan. I had felt betrayed by the words of that Psalm in the days and weeks following Sarah’s death. The thought of revisiting those feelings made me shudder.

About a month after Sarah’s death I mustered the courage to return to Psalm 91 to read and meditate and found peace in a deeper understanding. In the post titled “Why Sarah, Why Us?” I wrote about how God adjusted my perspective at that time. But even so, this Psalm still holds a particularly deep sting for me, and likely always will.

Reading Psalm 91 instantly transports me to my screened porch on June 7th, 2017. I can feel the warmth of the air that day and the coolness of the metal table beneath my arms as I place my hands on the delicate pages of my Bible to pray that passage over Sarah. As I pray I can see her through the porch window sitting safely in the den in her usual spot in a nest of blankets with books scattered about her. With each reading, I once again feel the emotion of that day, the consuming unsettledness in my spirit and the pulsing fervor with which I tearfully pled for her protection.

Nonetheless, I choose to trust Him and press forward in my rereading of Psalm 91 on this day, three years later.

Psalm 91
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, [But] it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes And see the recompense of the wicked.
For you have made the LORD, my refuge, [Even] the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him [securely] on high, because he has known My name.
“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will r
escue him and honor him. “With a long life I will satisfy him And let him see My salvation.”

As I was praying for Sarah’s protection three years ago, I asked the Lord to speak to me and guide me through His Word in my prayers for her. I believed it was He who led me specifically to Psalm 91 as I interceded for her protection. Though I stopped short of “claiming” her safety in a prosperity theology-esque way, I found encouragement in the words of the Psalm and was hopeful for her physical safety.

When I revisited Psalm 91 the month after her death, I saw the eternal significance and hope of the Psalm rather than the temporal hope I had previously clung to. I was encouraged as I focused on the truths eternally applied to her, most importantly that God has finally and permanently delivered Sarah and set her securely on high with Him.

But as I reread it on this date He instantly and profoundly impressed upon my heart that His leading me to Psalm 91, three years ago today, was from the beginning His tender promise of provision for my soon to be shattered heart. The number of Sarah’s days had been recorded in His book (Psalm 139:16). As I pled for more days, He knew it was the day before her last, and the day before the melting of my soul (Psalm 119:28).

“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” Psalm 119:28 [ESV]

Revisiting Psalm 91 this morning I am moved to tears. As I read each word, phrase and sentence I realize this is my story, this is my testimony. Not by my strength or might, but by His. He has faithfully strengthened me according to His Word over these three years, and in so doing made the Words of this Psalm the anthem of my soul.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”
Psalm 91:1-2 [NASB]

Death casts a large shadow. The valley of the shadow of death is cold, dark and lonely. But as I have run to Him for comfort, dwelling in His shelter, drawing near to Him, He has drawn near to me. His shadow has overtaken the shadow of death. Death still stands and casts its shadow for now, but just as the shadow of a larger building standing behind a smaller building overtakes the shadow of the smaller, the shadow of the Almighty now overshadows the shadow of death. He has been ever faithful these three years and like never before He has become “my refuge and fortress, My God in whom I trust!”

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
Psalm 91:3-4 [NASB]

Our adversary’s end goal is not temporal. Though he delights in physical destruction and death, his end goal is much more sinister, spiritual death. In the moments after learning Sarah was gone God clearly impressed upon my heart that Satan had asked to sift us. Satan in the past three years has brilliantly schemed for the spiritual destruction of our nuclear family and each of us individually. We have seen his snares, and the dangers of the deadly pestilence, but God has kept His wing about us. In the darkest of days there were times I questioned His presence, but looking back I clearly see His unwavering faithfulness and how it has safely delivered our family and me to this day, and I trust will safely deliver each of us Home.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, [But] it shall not approach you.
Psalm 91:5-7 [NASB]

By His faithfulness and His lifting of my eyes from the temporal to the eternal, He has taught me to not be afraid. Though the terror of night is real, the arrows flying by are sharp, and pestilence and destruction are on every side, they are all incapable of eternal impact. Certainly their impact is painful here in this moment, but just as my sweet Sarah said, “We are like a wisp of smoke. We are only here a moment.” My soul is eternally sealed and preserved by Him who holds me fast. Therefore, I am not afraid.

You will only look on with your eyes And see the recompense of the wicked.
For you have made the LORD, my refuge, [Even] the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
Psalm 91:8-13 [NASB]

There have been so many deeply painful trials in conjunction with Sarah’s death. Countless tearful nights crying out to Him to intervene and thwart the schemes of the adversary. Through them all He has guarded our hearts and has faithfully kept us from falling. We stand as a family in faith today because He has powerfully ministered to and preserved us. The past three years He has continually and faithfully given victory over that serpent of old, the lion seeking to devour our souls.

“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him [securely] on high, because he has known My name.
“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will r
escue him and honor him. “With a long life I will satisfy him And let him see My salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16 [NASB]

Oh how I love Him! How can I not? He is so faithful, patient, loving, gracious, merciful and kind. Through the blood of Christ He has once and for all delivered me. Though I have and will continue to have trouble in this life, He is with me. His faithfulness is my shield and bulwark. My soul confidently and fervently praises Him, knowing in just a little while He will once and for all rescue me. I will live eternally with Him, seeing Him and beholding Him face to face, and my sweet Sarah with Him.

Thank you, Lord, for redeeming, sustaining, delivering and preserving my family and me. Thank you, Lord, for making Psalm 91 my story, my testimony for your glory.

Come Lord, Jesus.

12 thoughts on “Three Years Ago Today

  1. Thank you for sharing, I know that this a harder than usual day. Thank you and Scott for everything y’all do and your friendship.We all belong to a special group and are there to help each other. I will be thinking and praying for your family today. We love you guys,

  2. Karen, Thank you so much for sharing your heart in the aching journey you and your family have been through the last three years. I appreciate your honesty in your pain and how the Lord continues to sustain you day after day. Your steadfastness in clinging to the Lord and searching His word to help make sense of what is so very hard. I have shared your blog with many of my friends. I haven’t lost a dear daughter like you have but your suffering gives me hope and encouragement in the things I am wrestling with. Thank you so much.

  3. I’ll ask my kids and David to read this. It speaks to me for many reasons. The morning Drew passed, I asked my friend to read Psalm 91 to me. Later that day a friend sent that psalm to me and of course it was the devotional psalm of the day! I used verses 1-2; 14-16 on the Drew headstone. I believed for a couple Years the Lord was reassuring me (and He did) that the angels protected Drew. I have since realized Drew was safely with Jesus and the angels have been protecting my family and me in ways we cannot imagine. I’m sorry for the hard day. I understand and will pray for you and your family. Satan has tried plenty of times to dismantle mine. The battle is not ours, is it? We just need to keep leaning in under that Wing. I’m grateful for your writings. This one especially is meaningful. I wish we could have coffee together. Thanks.

    1. That is so interesting that Psalm 91 has played such a significant role in your lives as well. Thank you for your prayers. I am praying for you now as well. And agreed, I would love to have coffee together… although mine would have to be a Coke, I just can’t seem to develop a taste for coffee. 🙂

  4. You’re the best writer and faithful follower of Jesus!
    You guys are on our hearts! Remembering Sarah always…

    💛Love & Prayers,
    The Bolans

  5. Karen, we all have a story to tell authored by God and what a gift He has given you to share yours. The soul searching depth of your writings touch the hearts of us all through your humanness reflecting God within you giving you the right words to think and speak through your pain of profound loss.

    The value if a life is measured by the lives it touches and Sarah’s life is a testimony for all the world to see. She spread love and joy doing ordinary things with extraordinary love, a blessing to all who knew her…forever remembered. I love you

  6. I was just recently made aware of your page. Your most recent post, about your daughter’s wedding was the first I saw. I reposted it because it hit home with me so much. We lost our oldest daughter, Kami, 2 1/2 years ago this month. Shortly after you lost your Sarah. Kami was a bit of wild child in her later teens but had gotten married, moved out of state and really matured the last couple of years of her life. Especially spiritually. She had a few tattoos, not my bag but, she loved them. Each had special meaning and one was scripture. The last one she got before her death was a feather. I asked about the significance and she told me that she had recently found Psalm 91:4. In her NIV translation, “He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge.”

    I didn’t notice your post on this at first but my sister pointed it out and I wanted to say thank you. I’ve clung to so many verses in this chapter, including the number of days that only God knew that Kami would be here. Two days before her death we had the joy of being told on FaceTime that she and her precious husband were going to make us grandparents for the first time. I’ve reread the chapter so many times during this dark night of the soul and valley of the shadow. Right now, I’m not doing well with trusting. I’m sad and mad and intermittently, apathetic. I don’t want this to be my reality for the rest of my earthly days and yet, it is.

    I just wanted to thank you for this insight. I’ll be reading your blog faithfully now and I pray it brings clarity for my own journey. ❤️ForeverKami’smom

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