It has been an interesting lot of news in our world - some way harder to digest than we really want to expend the effort to do.
We still can’t ignore it because it feels like it is too much to bear. Some is good news as well but so much seems overwhelming in too many ways. Last week was a bit of encouraging news over all in our local area with the collections gathered and sent out.
But the world news, not even sure how to spell the exhaling of breath that requires, is beyond our capacity to absorb and make sense of way too often.
Probably hardest for me was the murder by the deranged guy in Oregon. The news is trying to make him out to be anything but black or Muslim, yet other news is trying to make the case that that is exactly what he was. So which version of the news do we believe?
It is agreed by most accounts that this guy targeted those that were Christians in their faith. How hard was it for the second person to answer ‘yes’ to the question of ‘are you a Christian’? I’d like to think if I was second or ninth I’d still say yes.
Often in times of trouble I have resorted to my favourite Psalm (121) to gather myself for the next step of life. Sadly I had read it wrong for many years and it was only a few years ago it clicked that I was leaving out a question mark.
The Psalm goes thus: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills - From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.”
All of it was such an encouragement to me when life was tough. But the first part was to me an answer that I should have read as a question. The poetry of the words masked for me that question of ‘Where does my help come from?’
Somehow I had read it that my help came from the hills and living here in the shadow of the Scottish Grampians and the Howe o’ the Mearns gave an easy way to visualize the beauty and strength that seemed portrayed in these words. I sure misunderstand the whole situation.
David the psalmist was actually looking to the hills as the place that trouble came from, not as the source of strength. So often we look at the world around us as if our strength and help are coming from the natural world that we love and enjoy. The reality is that is where our challenges come from. What David was saying is seek the right source for our help. Instead of looking to the hills for help, we should instead look to the creator of those hills. Instead of thinking that those hills are eternal, we need to learn that is the Lord who keeps us.
Nice knowing there is a better way to strength.