Posted February 9, 2009
The third-century bishop and martyr, St. Felix of Nola, trying to escape his persecutors, hid in a cave. Immediately a spider wove its gossamer web across the small opening, giving the appearance to his prying pursuers that the cave had not been recently occupied. When the saintly bishop later stepped out into the sunlight, he exclaimed insightfully, “Where God is, a spider’s web is a wall; where he is not, a wall is but a spider’s web.”
Where does a fragile butterfly stay during stormy days and tempestuous nights? While rivers are surging and mountain oaks are torn from their roots, the dainty butterfly can be found clinging to the underside of a broad leaf, safe and dry. That’s reminiscent of Psalm 57:1: “Be merciful to me, 0 God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by.” That’s a good prayer for insecure souls.
Animal experts who specialize in hibernation studies have found that the safer the den, the sounder the sleep. (Burglar alarm companies might find that principle useful as a sales blurb.) This bit of trivia is reminiscent of the words from Job 5:24: “You shall know that your tent is safe,” or perhaps the words of David in Psalm 4:8 “I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, 0 LORD, make me lie down in safety.” For the insecure person, in dread of terrorism, disease, accidents, and a host of other things, a good prayer for cultivating trust in God is Psalm 56:3-4: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you …. What can flesh do to me?”
All of us, especially insecure souls, need to remind ourselves to reactivate frequently our trust in the loving God who is watching over us day and night. Any time you need a scriptural meditation on this great reality, open your Bible to Psalm 139 and read it prayerfully. You’ll breathe a lot easier, I assure you.
Fr. John Hampsch, “Pathways of Trust”