Sunday, 14 June 2015

Where Does My Help Come From?



Psalm 121 is one of my favourite psalms in the Bible. 

Growing up in Cumbria – surrounded by mountains

Psalm that speaks of the God who loves, cares & protects us

It is part of a group of psalms known as “Psalms of Ascent.” This is a group of fifteen short, simple songs that people would have used as they made their way in pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Psalm 121 is known as “The Traveler’s Psalm,” and would have been used as the pilgrims travelled from their villages to to Jerusalem for the annual feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

It’s the opening question that catches my attention. 

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
     where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.    


It may be a bit of a cliché, but life is a like a journey.  And on this journey there can be good times and bad times.  Times when it may feel like we’re journeying through lush pleasant countryside, on a beautiful summers day without a care in the world, and times when we feel as though we’re slogging up a steep mountain path, where everything is conspiring against us – when the wind is howling against us & we’re frozen to the core.  When the ground is slippery and unsteady, and that for every step forward we feel as though we slide down, and when it feels as though the path disappears completely.

This might be when we face health concerns, are anxious about the future, facing relationship difficulties, or financial problems.  It may be when we’re feeling depressed, or when life is just a struggle.

It is very easy for circumstances to overwhelm us, and as Christian’s we may find ourselves starting to question our faith or even God. 

I think it’s important to first of all acknowledge that we all face times when life is difficult, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Nor should we see it as a rejection or abandonment from God.  Whilst our love for God may blow hot and cold, His love for us remains steadfast.  God’s love for us in unmovable and unshakeable. 

So what should we do when times are tough. The psalmist is clear, we need to lift our eyes up to God

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
     where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.    

I find when times are tough, I can be totally consumed by my worries and concerns.  But lifting our eyes to God, is about making that conscious decision to say “My focus is not going to be on my troubles, but on God, on the one who can help me.” 

Example of Peter stepping out of boat – okay as long as he set his gaze on Jesus, only starts to sink when he starts noticing the wind & the waves.

What does this mean practically?

Prayer   -  prayer when times are tough can be difficult, especially when we can’t find the words to pray, or when we feel as though no one is listening.  But as in any relationship, keeping these challenges of communication open is important.

Be honest with God.  Tell him how you’re feeling.  We don’t need to pretend with God.  After all the Bible tells us that God knows our every thought and every word on our tongue (Psalm 139:1-4)

If we can’t find the right words, then it’s okay to use prayers that others have written.

Worship – example of Job "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." 

Trust -Importance of knowing Scripture, and allowing God’s word to speak into our everyday situations.  This helps build trust. 

Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be you dismayed: for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:0)

(Isaiah 43:1) But now thus said the LORD that created you, O Jacob, and he that formed you, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are mine.

(John 14:1) Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.

Three promises in Psalm 121
  • He will not let your foot slip
  • He watches over you
  • He will keep you from all harm
Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee,
Trust Him when thy strength is small,
Trust Him when to simply trust Him
Seems the hardest thing of all.
Trust Him, He is ever faithful,
Trust Him, for his will is best,
Trust Him, for the heart of Jesus
Is the only place of rest.

Conclusion

In life we will face both good times & difficult times, whether we have faith in God or not.  But for those who do trust God, the promise is this, not that God allows us to escape the hard parts, but that he will help us through these difficult times, and no matter what we face, it can’t ultimately separate us from His love.