It was a difficult week emotionally. I saw a beautiful, young girl and a loving father both lose their battles to cancer. I sobbed and sobbed, asking God over and over how He can let that happen, how He can sit by and watch. I only see but a glimpse of the suffering, He sees it all. I don’t understand. I would like to say that He imparted me with great understanding that makes it all better, but I don’t think that is possible. Even in all His omniscience, I don’t think it’s all better with Him either. But my cries did not go unanswered. Over the last week He has carried on the same theme with the things that have crossed my path. First and foremost, the beginning of Psalm 121 kept playing in my mind: Where does my help come from? I finally looked up the whole verse:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
My help comes from the maker of the heaven and earth! He who holds the earth’s waters in the palm of His hand and set the stars in the sky… that’s who comes to my aid! And even more? He doesn’t sleep on the job. He does know, and He is right there by my side. When I read verse 3 that says He will not let your foot slip, I picture a parent standing protectively behind their child as they climb at the park…with one hand hovering over their back and the other near their foot.
Then verses 6-8 come crashing in. He didn’t keep that sweet girl or loving father from all harm. Still, the idea of Him being the source of my help would not leave me. I wrestled with it a few days, and then I opened Facebook, and there it was…
“There are times when people need solid Christian answers. But there are also times to just weep together with no answers at all.” – Lysa TerKeurst
And so I wept again. No questions. No seeking. I just sat in my big comfy chair (my Jesus chair) and wept. As I began to settle, I was reminded of a line in Natalie Grant’s song “Held” that says, “And to know that the promise was when everything fell we’d be held.” Yes, that’s right, the fall. The fall ushered in sin, evil, destruction, death. I went back to psalm 121 and began to rethink those last few verses. Was the promise not that we would be shielded from all that, but that we would be held? My mind went back to the parent standing guard over their climbing child and thought of all the times the child falls anyhow… and how the parent then holds them. I looked back through the first several verses, soaking in the love and protectiveness of my Abba Father, and there I saw something that I had missed in the countless times I have read this Psalm… “the Lord is your shade.” There is something about the word shade…how it denotes relief. Indeed, the sun, like trouble, never fails to rise…and sometimes it scorches…but we can find shade.
“If hope is born of suffering, if this is only the beginning, can we not wait one hour watching for our Savior” (Natalie Grant)
(I would like to post the lyrics, but this is already a long post so here’s a link to Grant’s song…it speaks candidly about, and ministers to, suffering. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-hJ87ApWtw)