By Alex Hardt
Did you know when the sun set at night sailors used the stars to navigate? Stars move across the sky from east to west and some stars called rise and set stars begin and end their nightly path below the horizon. Sailors determined their heading by watching the movement of the stars the same way they watched the sun’s movement. Stars give sailors hope. No matter where they are on earth, they how to determine their direction based upon the stars. They know that if they just follow the stars they will eventually arrive at their destination.
One of the things I have come to recognize is that God is like the stars in heaven. Our life can be overflowing with joy or overwhelmed by pain and yet God remains the same. Wherever we are on this planet He will guide us. I can trust in His direction because He is the one who has been here since the beginning of time and will be here through all of eternity. This gives me great hope in knowing that the one who guides me is God.
Hope can be hard to find, in fact I would argue it often feels like it is missing. If you were to look around the last 3 years and say where is hope? You may have to search high and low to stumble upon it. Where is hope in the midst of covid nineteen? Where is hope when the world entered a war in Ukraine? Where is hope when the temperatures are rising, and the water supply is depleting? Where is hope amidst the social unrest and political division? Where is hope when another attack happens or when a school has to be locked down? To be honest there does not seem to be a lot of hope going around.
And yet in the scriptures, Psalm 121, it says
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.
Perhaps where we were looking for Hope was in the wrong places. We tend to look for hope in people, places, and things. We look for hope in the media, in governments, the latest fade, or who is currently trending in the news. We gamble our hope away on celebrities, athletes, investments, and the newest gadgets. These things of the world tend to let us down at one point or another and then our idea of hope is crushed. We wonder why we always feel empty, lost, broken, and hopeless. In the scripture the author acknowledges this when he says, “where does my help come from?” He could of said, where does my hope come from?
This psalm is called a song of ascent. It was intended for weary travelers heading to Jerusalem. Jerusalem sat on a plateau in the middle of mountains. Families had to travel through treacherous roads in the high desert heat where wild animals or robbers could attack. In those days, All the shrines to other Gods were built on hills, high places so everyone could see them. In the midst of all these mountains, where is my help going to come from, the author is looking at all the options. Is the author’s hope going to come from the God of Baal, the God of my political party, the God of investments, the God of sports, the God of Kardashians, the God of swipes, clicks, links, Tweets, Snaps, and TikTok OR the one true God.
The author recognizes that his hope “comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” He knows that it is God who never sleeps, who never fails, who never stops chasing after him, who will carry his family through this treacherous path. The author is not going to choose to look to the false Gods or the Hills but above the Hills and the mountains to the one who Made the Mountains.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is of David and Goliath. David was tiny and Goliath was humongous. Yet it was David who won the battle. The King of Israel, Saul was always afraid of Goliath. Saul always compared his height to the height of Goliath. David did not look at how tall Goliath was, he knew that he was not sufficient enough, he looked at how tall His God was. If you look to the hills, you will either find a false God who cannot help you or things that will scare you. But if you look to God, you will find peace and hope!
The Hope of God unites us and carries us through the most treacherous paths.
Let us search for Hope in God.
Practically Speaking About Hope
What people, places, or things have let you down?
How did it feel when hope was gone?
What would it look like for you to put your hope in God?
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