Psalm 91 and the Miracle of Dunkirk

 

In the space of two weeks, out entire world has changed. It seems as if the world has shut down as we hunker in our bunkers waiting for this virus to just go away.

 

 

Kinship Christian Radio is still on the air, broadcasting into your bunker as we shelter in place. And I would be remiss if I did not add that it will continue to do so as radio stations are considered an essential service because communication in a situation like this is vital. 

 

 

Even more vital is prayer.

 

 

Certainly, Christians are praying all around the world. Some are praying that the virus would be eliminated by a vaccine or natural events. Some are praying for strength and fortitude to endure. Some are praying for provision while they wait to be able to go back to work and earn a living. Others are praying for solutions from government to help those in need. Still others are praying that God would use this to bring many souls to salvation. And then there are those praying that, in these troubled and turbulent times, they would be granted the ability to shine with the light of Jesus and be part of the solution.

 

 

If anything is clear as of this moment, it’s that despite all humanity’s claims of having answers and solutions readily available to quickly solve problems, this is not an example of the strength of our great human wisdom and power.

 

 

And that brings me to a book I read about eight years ago, called “Psalm 91, God’s Shield of Protection” by Peggy Joyce Ruth and Angela Ruth Schum. It’s about Psalm 91 and it is written specifically for military men and women and their loved ones. It explains God’s covenant of refuge and hope using stories and testimonies that demonstrate His protection of soldiers through Psalm 91.

 

 

In that book, there is an absolutely fascinating story about The Miracle of Dunkirk –something I do not remember being taught in History class. (Granted, I do not remember much of anything from History class.) 

 

 

It began with Germany invading Poland in September of 1939. France and the British Empire responded by declaring war on Germany shortly thereafter. Very little happened for about eight months and then, in May of 1940, Germany invaded Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. Three tank divisions rolled quickly through the Ardennes forest in France, headed for the English Channel. 

 

 

By May 21, over 300,000  British troops were trapped on the beaches and in the harbor of Dunkirk, France. The German Army was less than 12 miles away and the British and French troops were backed up against the English Channel with nowhere to go. On May 26, 1940, the King of England called for the entire nation to pray fervently for the trapped soldiers.

 

 

Winston Churchill told the British public that they would only be able to rescue less than one-tenth of those soldiers. The Nazis had sunk so many British ships in the harbor that destroyers and large military vessels could not get into the harbor. Even if they could, the beaches were so shallow that large ships could not get close enough for the men to swim to them.

 

 

Hitler’s army was advancing rapidly, both with tanks and airplanes, and all seemed hopeless. 

 

 

With the nation of England praying fervently, a funny thing happened.  One of Hitler’s generals ordered the advancing army of tanks to halt. Hitler even confirmed the order because both he and the general were afraid too many tanks would be lost in the swampy ground around Dunkirk.

 

 

Instead, Hitler decided to send in the Luftwaffe to shoot the soldiers from the air.

 

 

As England continued to pray, another funny thing happened. A dense fog rolled in, grounding most of the Luftwaffe’s planes.

 

 

And then, yet another funny thing happened –the 21 miles of open water separating England from France suddenly went as flat and calm as a small pond.

 

 

Every boat that would float was sent from England to Dunkirk to rescue those soldiers. Over 700 fishing boats, pleasure craft, and merchant marine craft participated.

 

 

Some Luftwaffe planes were able to get through the fog to bomb and strafe the beaches. But great numbers of the soldiers there had memorized Psalm 91 and they weren’t just praying it –they were shouting it at the top of their lungs.

 

 

Among them was a young chaplain who later told how he laid on the open beach for what seemed like forever as bullets and shrapnel rained down all around him. Stunned and dazed by the deafening roar of the concussions around him, he stood up in amazement to find –not a scratch on him and the perfect outline of his body in the sand. It was, he said, “the only smooth and undisturbed spot on the entire bullet-riddled beach.”

 

 

In the end, 338,226 British and French soldiers were rescued from Dunkirk over a period of nine days. 

 

The miraculous rescue of Dunkirk energized and encouraged the British people. There was such elation in Britain that Winston Churchill had to tell his people, “We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.”

 

 

While Churchill’s point is certainly true on it’s face, praise and gratitude to God is never inappropriate. 

 

 

And as I am reminded of the Miracle of Dunkirk,  I have resolved to pray Psalm 91 out loud as often as I can.

 

 

 

Today’s Praise

 

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High

will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

This I declare about the LORD:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

he is my God, and I trust him.

For he will rescue you from every trap

and protect you from deadly disease.

He will cover you with his feathers.

He will shelter you with his wings.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,

nor the arrow that flies in the day.

Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,

nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

Though a thousand fall at your side,

though ten thousand are dying around you,

these evils will not touch you.

Just open your eyes,

and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the LORD your refuge,

if you make the Most High your shelter,

no evil will conquer you;

no plague will come near your home.

For he will order his angels

to protect you wherever you go.

They will hold you up with their hands

so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.

You will trample upon lions and cobras;

you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me.

I will protect those who trust in my name.

When they call on me, I will answer;

I will be with them in trouble.

I will rescue and honor them.

I will reward them with a long life

and give them my salvation.”

(NLT)

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