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.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps 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 from all evil; he will keep your life.
The lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
God keeps us in all places, all conditions, and all seasons. As Peter writes, “By God’s power [we] are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1: 5). Here, Peter mentions three important truths which parallel the psalmist’s hope. First, God is guarding us by his power— he’s our keeper. Second, God is guarding us “for a salvation to be revealed in the last time.” He protects us from ultimate evil, ensuring our final salvation. Third, God is guarding us “through faith.” His infinite power keeps us unto salvation by sustaining our faith.
Repeatedly, the psalmist states that God is his keeper (vv. 3, 4, 5, 7, 8). His repetition seems superfluous until we remember how difficult it can be to trust God when the hills are menacing and threatening. Just like the psalmist, we struggle to live in the reality of what we know to be true.
At times, our struggle is related to our thoughts. We have deep-rooted ideas of how we think God should work. But his ways rarely match our ways, so then what happens? We implode emotionally. We think something is wrong with God, or something is wrong with us. We begin to doubt and despair. In these times, we need to remember that deliverance from suffering only comes fully and finally in glory. To put it another way, we need to remember that the Christian life always ends well but it doesn’t always go well. In times of difficulty, we lift up our eyes to our God, reminding ourselves that he’s in control. Despite changing circumstances, his love for his people doesn’t change, and this love is the most valuable thing in life.
At times, our struggle is related to our feelings. When difficulties arise, our emotions often take over, exacerbating the problem. Years ago, I was flying in the front seat of a small plane over the country of Angola. As we passed through dense cloud and lost all visibility, I turned to the pilot, and somewhat sheepishly asked, “What now?” His response: “What do you mean, ‘What now’? I keep doing what I always do. I trust this plane’s guidance systems.” The temptation for any pilot in the midst of thick cloud is to fall back on his senses. If he does, it will always get him into trouble.
When we are in the cloud, when we are facing difficult times in life, far too many of us decide to navigate by our feelings. The result is always disastrous. We must trust God’s guidance system: his precepts and promises. Faith is fixed on objective historical facts and objective biblical promises—not subjective emotional feelings.
At times, the hills are daunting, and the darkness closes all around. Our knees buckle under the pressure, and our shoulders droop under the weight. We succumb to doubt. But here’s the key that always unlocks the chains of doubt and despair: “My help comes from the lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Excerpted from Longing for Home by J. Stephen Yuille.