It is natural to want to protect the people you love. Parents do everything they can to keep their children safe and on the path toward growth. Friends stand up for each other. You may avoid extreme risks to ensure the security of yourself and your family.
However, it is not possible or even preferable to protect everyone from every negative experience. Allowing children to struggle with difficult tasks is often how they learn, and challenging yourself is the way to growth. Taking risks may bring failure and loss, but it is also what often leads to success and love.
What is often more important than being protected from troubles is having the support you need to handle them. Furthermore, whether you mainly see God's role as protection or support can drastically affect your relationship with the divine presence.
Many people who use the Bible as a sacred text are familiar with the verses in John that warn that there will be trouble in this world. Those who see God as protector tend to rush to the second half of the passage that promises God overcomes problems. Overcoming, however, doesn't mean avoiding. Strong believers are just as likely as others to experience life's drastic upheavals:
- Natural disasters
- Financial ruin
- Death of loved ones
The difficulty with looking at God primarily as a protector is that, when bad things do happen, it's easy to blame God for whatever hardships they bring. This can lead to feelings of abandonment, leaving you wondering whether God is present or even real. You may become angry and resentful at God or faith leaders who aren't able to supply more concrete provision. If you don't blame God, you may second-guess your own choices, assuming that you are suffering because you did something wrong, whereas this may not actually be the case. It can shake your faith. On the one hand, this may cause you to dig deeper and explore your beliefs more thoroughly, but there is also the possibility that you will turn from your faith altogether. The problem with a protection mindset is that it is only really helpful when everything is going well.
Seeing God as a powerful support, however, can make a world of difference. When God becomes a "very present help in trouble," you can experience God as a true ally rather than a detached bodyguard. Rather than the all-powerful deity who magically makes everything go right and showers you with riches, you have a friend who comes alongside your pain and stays close as you go through it.
This viewpoint can be more challenging to grasp, at least initially. It's one thing to see God as a comfort and a friend as you navigate the small ups and downs of daily life. In most circumstances, divine support brings peace. When something devastating happens, though, the comfort doesn't come as quickly. It can be difficult to see God in the midst of intense suffering, but understanding God as a support rather than an impermeable shield can more readily lead to healing. If you believe that God is still there, offering a shelter in the storm, that faith is more likely to console you than a dogma that insists that God keep you from all harm.
You long to protect those you love from anything that would hurt them, so it's understandable that you would want the same thing from God. As you likely experience in your relationships with other people, though, protection is not always possible or even ultimately profitable for growth. Adopting a view of God as support rather than protection can help you expand into even more maturity in your faith.