“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.”
Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)
Well, 2019’s here, how’s yours going? Is it a Happy New Year? Have you experienced that sense of starting over and getting a fresh start? If you have, then congratulations for you are in the minority.
The truth is, for most people things don’t start fresh on January 1st. Life just continues on the same path as it was on December 31st. The only difference is our world now makes us feel slightly guilty if we haven’t experienced that fresh start or engaged in those New Year’s resolutions.
Yay! Who wants a slice of guilt and resentment to start the New Year?
Don’t get me wrong; I am not intending to come across as negative or pessimistic. I just find myself in that group of people who’ve not started 2019 very well. Rather than hide this fact and put on a fake smile, I thought it best to share and contemplate together how we should respond to one another as Christ-followers when this is the case.
If I’m being perfectly honest, 2019 has been pretty crumby since day one. Well, that’s not exactly true, back up through the month of December and that would be more accurate.
If you weren’t aware, January 1, 2019, Echoes of Hope became my #1 priority and my only job. Exciting right? Well, yes and no. In many ways it’s thrilling to step out with God into the unknown, trusting him for wisdom, provision, guidance, and open doors. But in other ways, it’s terrifying and lonely.
I’m finding that people, in general, are excited to see someone step out in faith with God. And it is exciting to watch. But again, it’s lonely and scary.
You see the problem with someone stepping out in faith, is that most people assume these individuals have some kind of spiritual strength that exempts them from those fears and feelings of isolation. Because people make those assumptions, few ask how those individuals are really doing. I, myself, can say I’ve been guilty of this very thing with some of my friends in this past.
How we respond to our friends in these faith-stretching seasons of life is crucial. Trust me, they need you far more than you can imagine.
Unfortunately, what I’ve found through my own seasons of struggle and by talking with others in similar situations, one of two responses are typical.
In the first response, well-meaning people will listen intently, say they are sorry to hear about the struggles and that they want to be there, but then fail to follow-up as life gets in the way. Again, I’m sad to say I’ve been guilty of this response at times.
The second response, which always makes me cringe, is an expression of disappointment in the one who is struggling because they aren’t being strong or are lacking faith. Really?
Can I say, neither response is helpful when someone has stepped on of the boat onto the water with Jesus.
So how we do we do this better? How do we respond to those in faith-stretching seasons with encouragement and grace? Or, if we are the ones struggling how do we find hope to endure while waiting for such encouragement?
To answer these questions we have to go directly to God and his word, for this is the only place to find such wisdom.
I’ve been wrestling with God, A LOT, about all of this as I’m personally looking for him to bring encouragement to this new endeavor that is so out of my comfort zone.
A few weeks ago, having fallen asleep while praying, the Holy Spirit awakened me in the middle of the night whispering… “Psalm 121”. I distinctly remember it, but quickly fell back to sleep. So, first thing when I awoke the next morning I grabbed my Bible and flipped to the Psalms.
Psalm 121 reads…
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.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
I read these words and hope washed over every ounce of me and I felt peace…. for the next 30 minutes.
I wish I could tell you it stayed beyond that moment, but the struggles I’m experiencing right now are real. Some are growing pains, some are disappointments, and some are (I believe) the enemy jacking with me. Regardless of where my struggles are coming from, I have a very real knowledge that everything coming my way has been filtered through my Saviors hands. So what am I to do with that knowledge? He sees me struggling, so where’s my help?
I decided to return to this Psalm over and over daily, as the weeks have passed. For one thing I know is true – my Savior cannot lie. I don’t know why help seems so far away and elusive, but every day that I read his word I am reminded that my Savior’s eyes are on me 24 hours a day and that he is watching over me.
I wish I knew why in some seasons God intervenes quicker than others, but my hope continues to build as I plant myself in his word and am reminded of his faithfulness.
So again, where’s my help?
It’s right where it’s always been; seated on high at the right hand of the Father, waiting for the right moment to intervene on my behalf. My resilience is growing, and I trust he will continue to sustain me as I wait for his help and those of you who are waiting as well. Until that moment arrives, may we hold fast to his goodness and trust help is on the way.
Blessings and Happy New Year!
For Your Reflection…
Whether you are watching someone you know struggle in faith-stretching seasons or are yourself that person, the help that is needed comes from one place – God himself. If you seek him, He will give you the wisdom to draw close and encourage your friends or he will himself provide the support you need through his word.
You need only ask him for such wisdom.
So, how are you doing in 2019? Do you need to lean into Scripture for help? Or do you need to reach out to someone who may need your love and support? Pray about it and follow God’s leading.