“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.” (Acts 14:19–20, AV)
The President of the United States, POTUS, is always surrounded by security guards. The Secret Service goes to great lengths to protect the President from those who would seek to harm him. This protection is extensive. However, in our history it has not been absolutely perfect. I still remember where I was when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I remember the attempted assassination of President Ronald Regan. Yet the Secret Service does a very effective job to protect our President.
No human protection is foolproof. There is a crack in every plan. However, God’s protection of us is foolproof. We can see this in Paul’s experience in Lystra. Now, Paul did not have an armed array of bodyguards. He had no human Secret Service agents surrounding him. Yet, he did have an unseen protector. This protector has an impeccable record because He is God Almighty, the omniscient and omnipotent one who never sleeps and watches over His servants. However, you say, “If this is the case, why does anything bad ever happen to God’s servants?” This is a great question.
In Lystra, after Paul and Barnabas deny that they were the human embodiment of the gods, Jewish dissidents arrive from Antioch and Iconium and persuade the crowds to rise up against Paul. They stoned Paul and believed him to be dead. They dragged him outside of the city to rot. There the disciples gathered around Paul and Paul rose up, perfectly alive. The next day he left and went on with Barnabas on their missionary mission to Derbe and preached the gospel there.
The point is this. God’s protection for us is much different than human protection. First and foremost, God’s protection is perfect. However, this perfect protection does not mean that nothing bad will ever happen to us. We will encounter hardships. God will allow things to come upon us for purposes greater than we can understand.
So, how then is God’s protection perfect? It is like this. We are indestructible. That is that God protects us from physical death until we have fully accomplished the mission to which He has called each one of us in this life. The Psalmist affirmed this, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16, ESV).
God has a plan for every believer. He has a mission for everyone of us. While we are not to put God to a foolish test, He does watch over us as His children on mission for Him. We may be persecuted, battered, and abused in this life. We may endure hardships of every kind. Yet this is the big truth. He protects us from death until we have fully accomplished His purposes in this life. Then when our earthly service is completed, He takes us home to be with Him. So, in this life, get on with what He has called you to do.