“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” (Matthew 6:13 KJV)
When I first read about the Germanwings flight 9525 plane crash, they didn’t have any suspects. Soon, however, they came to suspect that the copilot deliberately locked the pilot out of the cockpit and set the plane on a collision course with a mountain. Supposedly, in the black-box recording you could hear the passengers screaming and the pilot begging the co-pilot to open the door. All I could think about was the report listing the number of people aboard, including two infants. I was deeply shaken by imagining how I would feel if I were holding my baby and realizing that we weren’t going to survive. Would I be glad to be with him in the last moments? Would I be screaming too, or just holding him? I’d probably be crying and telling him I loved him and that everything was going to be okay.
You might say I would be lying. In some ways, that situation is the furthest possible from “okay.” But it’s all about perspective. Think about all the things that scare you – horror movies, haunted houses, things that go bump in the night. All of them boil down to the fear of dying. Yet the Apostle Paul writes, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life…will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38a,39b NIV). How can that be? Because to him, “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 NIV).
Anyone who reads about flight 9525 cannot doubt that there is evil in this world. (I’m not calling the co-pilot an evil man, but his final action was certainly evil.) Most of you reading this are probably fortunate enough to live in a time and place where your day-to-day safety doesn’t weigh on your mind very often. Then something like this, or the Newtown shooting, or 9/11, comes along and reminds us how helpless we are.
Jesus knew our fears. When he taught his disciples how to pray, one of the few requests of God in the short, simple prayer was, “Deliver us from evil.” (Depending on the translation, it could read “from the evil one,” who is the source of the world’s trouble.) God really is the only one who has power over evil, which he proved when Jesus rose again and conquered death, the only thing that humans really have to fear.
I heard an interview with the singer Plumb a few years ago, about her song “Safe in My Arms.” She was explaining that the immediate meaning of the song was her promise to keep her baby safe. Then she added, “And I believe that ultimately we’re all safe in the arms of God” (I’m paraphrasing from memory). Even now, thinking about being on that flight is almost unbearable to me. Yet in the midst of the panic, I truly believe that I could feel safe, because the most important part of me – my soul, my eternal destiny – cannot be threatened by even the devil himself.