John D. Barry
I say, “Help comes from God.” I tell people, “You’re not alone.” Both are empty phrases if I don’t live like I believe them.
The author of Psalm 121 spotted this problem. The ancients believed the gods dwelt on the mountains, but the psalmist says otherwise: “I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (HCSB). But what if the Creator falls asleep on the job?
God doesn’t sleep. In contrast to the belief that gods drifted into the underworld, and consequently awful things happened, the psalmist explains that God is always present: “He will not allow your foot to slip … the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep.” We think we are different than the ancients, but we, too, link terrible things to God’s supposed ineptitude, or His judgment. The psalmist says the opposite: God is a shelter from the elements.
God doesn’t get sunburned. Even though people believed the “sun” and “moon” gods brought unbearable weather, the psalmist says: “The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side. The sun will not strike you by day, or the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all harm.” Again, we think we are more advanced than the ancients, but we have the insurance clause for “other acts of God.” Rather than viewing the Lord, or the gods, as the cause of unexpected disaster, the psalmist views Him as a Protector. But why would God
God doesn’t blush. It seems that any creator would look at what we have done to the world and either hate us, or be embarrassed. Instead of blushing, God turns His face towards us. God teaches the priests, via Moses, to request His presence. Psalm 121 echoes the priestly prayer: “The Lord bless you and protect you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord look with favor on you and give you peace.” God follows this by saying, “In this way [Aaron and his sons, the high priests] will put My name on the Israelites, and I will bless them” (Num 6:24–27). God’s undaunted presence marks believers. Here’s how we can be enveloped in that presence.
Find help in Jesus. Just prior to His arrest and betrayal, Jesus prays, “I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, … protect them by Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are one” (John 17:11). Our acceptance of Jesus makes us one with the Father. Consequently, we are protected. But help is not for hoarding. We are called to use God’s protection to create community.
Find help in community. Jesus prays for love, which is at the center of good community: “May [the believers] be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:23). When believers unite in Christ’s love, the broken can be helped.
Bring help to the world. The fruits of our Bible study should not be private. We have to live what we believe. Jesus ends His prayer by saying, “I made Your name known to them and will make it known, so the love You have loved Me with may be in them and I may be in them” (John 17:26). We should show God and other people the love He has shown us. Let’s take our needs to God, watch Him act, and then make Him known.