You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)
This Psalm names God as El Shaddai – God Almighty. Of all the names of God, perhaps El Shaddai comes closest to an all-encompassing name for God. But close is not really close due to the limitations of language and our human condition.
El Shaddai was translated as God Almighty in the King James Version. These words make me think of power on a grand scale. I imagine El Shaddai leading an army of believers to conquer evil and sending peals of thunder and bolts of lightning to illuminate the night sky. We might even give El Shaddai a human stereotype – maybe a strong, protective man with biceps of steel.
But that stereotype limits God. “Shaddai” is taken from the Hebrew word “shad”, which means “breast.” This means that El Shaddai provides maternal nourishment – provision, nurture and blessing, in other words. The first time El Shaddai’s name is used, it is spoken in the context of fruitfulness and blessing for Abraham and Sarah. Their fruitfulness and blessing was not limited to Isaac. El Shaddai created generational flourishing for the faithful, who have spread to every country of the world. And El Shaddai shows us what fruitfulness and blessing means in the context of the One who was wrongfully executed. Death is not a limitation in El Shaddai’s world.
So when the Psalmist encourages us to trust El Shaddai in a world where everything seems upside down – pandemic, wars and rumors of war, divisiveness, a languishing church, personal problems – what is our response? Should we limit El Shaddai to some words in a human language and order up a serving of worry on the side? Or can we just smile and know that there are no limits on flourishing through El Shaddai?
Prayer of Response:
Living God, we flourish in you! Help us to trust you, and receive your blessings and live lives of fruitfulness in Christ. Amen.
Questions to Ponder:
How have you noticed God helping you to flourish, even in difficult times?
What limitations and worry are you being invited to release to God?
—Submitted by Libby Rutherford
Libby has been a Lifespringer for about 15 years, and is on its Executive Team. She is wife to Jay, mom to John (Te) and Sarah (Pascal), and grandmother to Malcolm! She has way too many chickens and more eggs in the incubator. She thinks chickens make the best sermon illustrations.
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