I lift up my eyes to the hills—Psalm 121:1
from where will my help come?
Here is a question that I suspect we have all asked, at one time or another: From where will my help come? Even as people of faith, we still can’t help but ask this question. When when we face an unexpected illness or loss, or when any of life’s many challenges become too great to bear, we can’t help but wonder where we can turn for help.
There are many places in this world that claim to be able to help us, usually for the right price! But the reason I think this psalm is so beloved is that it reminds us to lift our eyes. When we need help, look up. Pray. That is where our help is to be found – in the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Our help comes from the Lord, which is both comforting and troubling, isn’t it? It is comforting, of course, because if there is anyone who can help us, it is surely the one who created us and who loves us. And if God has the power to create the heavens and the earth, how easy would it be for God to help us?
But it’s also troubling, because the creator of heaven and earth seems can so far away at times, so unreachable. And trusting God to help us requires us to, well, trust God. Sometimes God helps us in miraculous, easy-to-see ways. But more often, God helps us in ways that can only be seen through the eyes of faith. A coincidence, a well-timed note, or in some other way that only we can see. These ways of help are wonderful, but sometimes we would prefer the easy-to-see quick fix. And because of that, prayer often becomes a last resort, an act of desperation, only to be turned to when none of the more immediate and easily-seen answers are available to us. If there is no quick-fix for what we need, we turn to prayer.
But, here is what makes this psalm so important. When we lift our eyes to God, even in desperation, God cannot help but answer our prayers, and give us a peace within life’s storm that is unmatched by anything else. Our help truly does come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
And what happens when we come to believe this again? We turn from prayer to witness. In the rest of this wonderful psalm, the psalmist is not asking for help, but reminding all who read these words of where our help is to be found:
“The Lord is your keeper … The Lord will keep you from all evil … The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.”
Once the psalmist remembers that it is God who helps them, they want to share this comforting promise with others. The structure of this psalm, in other words, reminds us of a very basic truth: That prayer – true prayer – leads to witness. After we have spent time with our Lord in prayer, and received the gifts and fruit of prayer, we can’t help but want to share our joy with others. When a student learns something new and interesting, she wants to share it with others. When a scientist makes a new discovery, he wants to share it with others. When a Christian experiences God in prayer, she wants to share it with others, too. Yes, I know where our help comes from! Yes, the maker of heaven and earth really does care about us! Yes, God promises to keep our going out and our coming in from this time forth and forevermore! It sounds too good to be true, but it is true! I know it, for I have experienced it in prayer! I have turned my eyes upward, and found God waiting and ready to bless me with all the gifts of faith that I could ever hope for! It’s all true! And it is all because our amazing God!
So, from where will your help come? Lift your eyes to the hills, and see our wonderful, loving God ready to help you, to bless you and keep you from this time on and forevermore. Thanks be to God!
This is another in my series exploring scripture’s most compelling questions. I share more about this series here: What Are Scripture’s Most Compelling Questions?