Protected by Angels
Jill Peláez Baumgaertner
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Life does not come without suffering. Faith in God does not come without suffering. We are human. We suffer. And how natural it is to wonder where God is in the suffering. The psalmist begins by praising the Lord, by magnifying God, by exalting the name of God, by expressing complete certainty that “those who seek the Lord lack no good thing,” and that God’s holy angels surround us in protection.
Martin Luther writes about Psalm 34:7: “But you might say, ‘I don’t see or feel God’s angels around me. Actually, I feel like I am under the power of the devil and am being led to hell.’” But, Luther contends, if we had been handed over to the devil, we would not be alive. He says, “You are still alive because of the protection of the holy angels.”
One of my favorite films by the German director Wim Winders helps me to visualize what is difficult to imagine. Wings of Desire opens in a library where the patrons are reading at tables, staring into space, thinking about their current concerns, some trifles, some calamitous. Over each one broods an angel, listening in, caring, putting a hand on a shoulder, grimacing at the dark thoughts of a tortured soul. They are invisible to the humans, but they are utterly present and fill the space with their care for the distressed—and so many of these humans are in despair and utterly lonely. The angels watch and wait and listen—agents of our God who watches and waits and listens.
Dear Lord, we have heard that you are “near to the brokenhearted” and that you “save the crushed in spirit.” Fill us with hope and the assurance that you and your holy angels hear us and care for us. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen