Are You Here, Lord?

Scripture often brings me great comfort and solace.

The majority of the time.

There are other times, though, especially in recent days and months that questions stab my consciousness and I wonder.

Is that okay?

For a mission-minded girl like me to wonder, to ask, to even demand that the word of God make more sense to me than it does sometimes?

Don’t worry.

I still have my faith.

I still trust.

I still rest in God’s love and care.

And yet. Here I am.

I’m pondering and praying.

In recent weeks, my sons and I memorized Psalm 121. It’s described as a song of ascent. It is believed that this psalm was recounted for two central purposes. First, that travelers sung these words during their journey toward Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and the Feast of Tabernacle. Second, the Levites are thought to have offered these words in worship as they ascended the fifteen steps to the temple.

These are the words of their song:

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.

New International Version, Psalm 121

Danger loomed ahead.

Although the psalmist doesn’t identify the dangerous, terrifying, and worrying threat looming ahead on the mountain pathway, we sense his fear. He understood that crossing through this mountain way involved intimidating physical, mental, and emotional risk. Yet, he pressed forward anyway – trusting his God.

He believed.

His God would not let his foot slip.

His God would watch over him – even as he slept and was in his most vulnerable position.

His God would protect him; being his shade and covering by day and by night.

His God would keep him from all harm.

His God would watch over his life.

His God would care for him – forever and ever and ever and ever…

Truly, as the boys and I memorized these comforting, strengthening words, we were encouraged. Our life hasn’t been easy in recent years – and truth be told, we’ve never had it that easy.

I desire that my sons know their God and trust His words.

Yet, here I am.

I’m wondering about some of these promises in the face of certain realities.

Feet slip.

People fall.

Despair wails.

Lament sobs.

Helplessness groans.

Anguish suffers.

Betrayal stings.

Terrible, horrendous assaults pummel us in the early morning hours and late, late, late in night.

Harm slashes, crashes, burns, and bombs our consciences.

Where is our Help?

Is God watching?

Is God aware of our horrors?

Where is He right now as our children cry for affirmation, hope and purpose?

Where is He right now as our parents worry for their families?

Where is He right now as our friends struggle with disease?

Where is He right now as our family wrestles with transition?

Where is He right now as our nation fights with itself?

Where is He right now as countries invade, terrorists attack, and the most marginalized, weak, and vulnerable suffer?

Where is He right now as our world is infected and defiled by pollution?

Where are You, Lord?

The psalmist calls YOU – his Help, his Maker, his Protector, his Defender, and his Hope.

Will you be the same for us?

Now?

Today?

At this moment in time?

As I consider the words of the psalmist and the fact that I am reading them centuries and centuries later, I take some encouragement. He must have trekked through those mountains, along the dangerous pathways, around the menacing rocks, over the ragged and rough peaks, and beyond the bandits and rogues who hid within the tortuous landscape and finally reached his promised destination.

He landed safely and securely in the place where He would worship, adore, and praise his God.

And he did it again and again and again and again – year after year.

In fact, this song was sung over and over again as this people of worship crossed a perilous terrain to offer their praise to their Heavenly Father.

They understood that dangers stood in their way.

They understood that threat could harm them.

They understood that malevolent forces worked against them.

Yet, they took their eyes off the malevolent mountains, and focused their sights upon their faithful God who would guide, protect, shield, and watch over them – come what may.

Their focus was not on the very real and very present threats of betrayal, deceit, struggle, disease, war, treachery, and more, but upon their future time of fellowship, celebration, and adoration of their Father.

Where was their God?

He was with them.

The Lord was guiding them through the muck of this world, to reach the glory and wonder of His world.

So, the questions I ask myself now is, are You, here, too, Lord?

Lord, are You shepherding us through this muck?

Lord, are You helping us over the peaks of (forgive me) proverbial poop?

Lord, are you shielding us from the harmful strikes of betrayal, prejudice, judgment, disrespect, and dishonor?

Lord, are you healing us from our emotional and mental anguish?

Lord, are you watching?

Lord, are you seeing this?

Lord, do you know?

And then I reach this place of assurance:

Lord, I believe You are with us!

And I believe You see us!

And, I trust You will lead us through, up, over, and around all of the struggles and obstacles that present themselves in our lives – even the very difficult, I-never-wanted-to-experience-this-in-my-life situations.

Because you are leading us to the back side, the other side of the challenges – to the beautiful places of praise, adoration, and glory of YOU! To the worship-filled spaces where our moans, our sighs, our longings, and our painful journeys of rejection, prejudice, disease, loss, and hardship are beautifully and mysteriously transformed and remastered into songs of praise.

How do we get there?

To the other side of beauty, blessing, and praise?

We walk.

We trek.

We step forward with our God.

We let Him take us there – through every bit of struggle and blessing – to the place where we will sing our own song of praise.

Is it possible? For you? For me? For us all?

Yes.

As we sing and trust as the psalmist does:

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.

2 thoughts on “Are You Here, Lord?

  1. Shirley Hethorn March 22, 2022 — 9:43 pm

    This has been a difficult year so far for many I know and love, Yet He hold us fast.I will tell you later of the changes in my life. I wonder why, I am walking forward and Thanking the Lord heartily for the blessings, but I thank Him for the changes that hurt as I let go of the familiar and seekHis wil along the way for my GOD is GOOD Love Shirley.

    1. Hi Shirley, I’ll give you a call soon and check in with you. Change is hard. Really hard. I was reading today, though, that “we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 2 Corinthians 4:11 Through suffering, and the path of the cross we find our way to a resurrected life of healing and joy. It’s easier to type these words and read these words than live them sometimes. How grateful I am for the grace and compassion of our Savior who understands this journey and walks with us each step of the way. I love you, Shirley. I’ll try to call you soon! Love, heather

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