It's easy to see that those who claim to be Christians do not, generally, receive special protection from calamity, sickness, consequences of our sins or that of the sins of others, suffering, and other hardship here on earth. Yet we find in the Bible some statements that God will protect us. What do those mean?
How does a person obtain the protection of God?
First, the promises of protection and success made by God in the Old Testament mostly apply to His chosen people, the Hebrews. God made a system of agreement with these people that if they lived in a God-honoring way, He would grant them special care (see Deuteronomy 28; Exodus 1:22—2:10; 1 Kings 17:1–6). Often, even when the people of Israel failed, God had mercy and treated them with blessings. You'll note too that He also treated them with justice.
When we see promises for protection in the New Testament, those promises are made under another agreement—the new covenant. God has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place, then Jesus rose again to life. Those who believe this and sign their lives over to Jesus are called Christians and are promised eternal life in heaven with God.
However, Christians are not promised a life here on earth free from difficulty. Jesus even told His followers, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). The New Testament epistles describe persecution and assume it will be a reality for Christians (for example, Romans 8:18–25; 2 Corinthians 1:3–11; 11:23–28; Philippians 1:27–30; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; James 1:2–4; 1 Peter 2:20–25; 3 :13–22).
Aside from being subject to living in a fallen world, and thus experiencing the general effects of sinfulness, and experiencing persecution as Christians, we also "suffer" in putting to death the sinful nature. God says to live for Him we must die to ourselves. Anyone who follows Jesus must "… deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23), he says.
Clearly Christians are not promised a problem-free life. Yet we do know that God is able and willing to protect us. What is His protection, and how do we obtain it?
Even under the new covenant, there are times that God physically protects us. Many people can attest to God's supernatural healing, His sovereign intervention to keep someone from harm, and other intercessions He causes for our good. God knows what is best and He works for His ultimate glory and our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).
We see such physical protection for some followers of Jesus in the New Testament. For example, Peter was miraculously released from prison in Acts 12. Yet, just before this, James was martyred (Acts 12:2). Paul experienced, but survived, shipwrecks, beatings, persecution, and a snakebite in Acts (and as attested to in 2 Corinthians 11:23–28). Acts tells of miraculous healings done through the apostles as well as persecution and martyrdom. So there is still physical protection, yet we are not protected from all suffering. Again, it is based on God's will and what He knows is best.
The promises to Christians in the New Testament for protection are generally about spiritual protection. See, though God cares for us deeply, He is primarily concerned with our eternal self—our soul.
When we confess Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we are saved—saved from eternal separation from God (Romans 10:9; John 3:16–18). Once we genuinely accept Jesus, that bond can never be broken (2 Timothy 1:12; Romans 8:38–39). We are born again (John 1:12; 3:3; Romans 6:22), granted the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1–6; Ephesians 1:13–14). God's promise to be with us, and to deliver us to heaven for eternity where we will be with Him forever, is the protection of our souls (Philippians 4:7; Ephesians 6:10–11). We obtain that protection by putting our faith in Jesus Christ.
We may ask God for physical protection, and even the act of asking honors God and bestows our trust in Him, but we cannot expect that He will supernaturally put a bubble of protection around us constantly. It is often our struggles that build our faith and offer us opportunities to tell others about our eternal faith in God. No matter the circumstances, we can trust that we are held in God's hand. We can find shelter underneath His wings (Psalm 91), knowing that our souls are eternally His and our lives are in His hands, the hands of a Father who loves us more than we can imagine (Ephesians 3:14–21).
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