Where Does Your Hope Come From?

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth."

Psalm 121:1-2 ESV

Hello Calvary and Friends,

Hopelessness is on the rise. How do I know that to be the case? There several observations that lead me to this conclusion. Surveys show it to be the case (1). Social media outlets reveal the trend (2). Even news outlets are reporting an increase in hopelessness (3). It comes in a variety of forms. Some people have lost hope because of the economy. For others, it's the political scene. Still others have found their hopes dashed by personal tragedy. Just this morning I was reminded twice, in two different situations, about the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease. One reminder was from a man in our church whose father has the disease. The other was a fundraiser being promoted in the window of a local business with a banner that read, "Walk To End Alzheimer's." I have been touched by this disease personally, too. My Grandfather died from Alzheimer's after living across the street from Kari and me for several years. I witnessed my grandmother struggle with hopelessness as she watched her husband disappear into the recesses of a broken mind. My point is that whatever the apparent cause, hopelessness is a terrible condition of the heart. A condition that needs a cure. So, let's turn our attention there and to the answer to the question, what is the cure for hopelessness?

Psalm 121 presents us with tremendous words of hope from someone who apparently needed hope. We don’t know who wrote this psalm, but, as Dr. John Gill's summary of the possibilities for authorship reveals, whatever the source, all of the prospects have one thing in common: hope was under assault:

"Aben Ezra thinks it (Psalm 121) was composed on account of Israel, when in a siege and distress; or, adds he, on account of the children of our captivity; the present state of the Jews. Grotius is
of opinion it was written by David, at the time of the battle with Absalom. Some take it to be a military psalm, proper for soldiers engaged with an enemy: others, that it is suitable for travellers when on a journey…”

There may not be conclusive evidence revealing who wrote the hopeful words of Psalm 121 but there is no doubt that these words were timely for a heart that needed encouragement. And so they are timely today. As applicable as any words we find in the pages of Scripture, these speak right to the deepest darkest places where discouragement takes hold. They remind us that when hopelessness is on the rise, when discouragement has knocked someone down, all that person needs to do is look up.

The Psalmist writes, “I lift my eyes up to the hills.” Did you know that Jerusalem was built on the top of several mountains in southern Israel? So dramatic is the topography of the area that a journey to Jerusalem, when mentioned in Scripture, is often described as “going up.” How rich the symbolism that we find in the fact that the temple was in the highest place of the city of Jerusalem which is in the highest place of the surrounding geography. To lift the eyes to the hills would immediately conjure up in the Hebrew mind the city of Jerusalem, known for nothing more importantly that the place where Jehovah dwelt. “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord" - the God who lives up high on the temple mount in Jerusalem. But the Psalm doesn't stop there. He is even higher than that. He is so high, He is above creation itself. For He is the One who made “heaven and earth.” And with that descriptor we arrive at the place of anticipation. At least that is my prayer.

I pray that whenever we find our hope being dashed, we will lift our eyes to the God of creation, and in anticipation allow the truths of the rest of Psalm 121 to wash over us. For it is only the God above all creation who it can be said of with absolute confidence:

"He will not let your foot be moved;
     he who keep you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
     will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
     the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
     nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you form all evil;
     he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
     your going out and your coming in
     from this time forth and forevermore."
Psalm 121:3-8

Be encouraged today! God is your keeper. He is your shade. He is your protector. He is your guide. He is your good father. Look to Him and find hope renewed.

For His Glory,

Pastor Justin

(1) U.S. Suicide Rate surges to a 30 year High", The New York Times - http://nyti.ms/26iji5S

(2) Type the hashtag "hopelessness" into Twitter and read on.
(3) Interview on the hopelessness in Chicago - http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=17416756