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Last week I dropped my wife and daughter off at the airport. As I left I offered up a prayer for their safety on the flight and throughout their mom/daughter vacation. My thoughts strayed to an interesting fact. I was more likely to get in an accident on the ground than they were flying thousands of miles, thousands of feet in the air, in a heavy metal tube.

While travel is relatively safe in our nation, such was not the case in the lives of the Israelites. Difficult terrain, walking was the main mode of travel, and there was a good chance that predators (human and animal) were lurking around every corner or rock, ready to attack. The rough terrain offered a third threat to the safety of their travel.

Hebrew pilgrims would make the journey to Jerusalem to worship at the temple several times a year and the journey was always treacherous. Along the way they would sing songs to encourage themselves and any traveling companions they were with. Songs that reminded them of God’s great love, power and promises of protection.

One of those songs, Psalm 121, begins “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.” It was a song sung in the wilderness. It was a song sung in the midst of fear, uncertainty and danger. When life goes wrong we have a tendency, in our human minds, to focus on the danger around us. The more we focus on our struggles the more we tend to see them grow.

When life is hard, when relationships fail, when you can’t break the addiction, when the finances are far shorter than the paycheck, when the political/social climate is frustrating and confusing, our tendency is to look at all the ramifications of that. But the Psalmist has a different idea.

When things are looking down, look up! The Psalmist realized that help didn’t come from the wilderness he was in. The hills were a sign of both danger (predators loved to hide behind rocks) and victory (the Temple was at the top of the hills).

Victory would come at the end of the journey but while in the journey two things were promised. First of all, there would be trials. There would be danger. There would be disappointment and confusion. On the journey there were no guarantees you would make it safely.

The second promise is that help was available through the Creator God of the universe. God never promises life will be easy. On earth there are no guarantees from social action to government intervention or ‘financial stability’. The only real help comes from a God who loved us enough to send his son to show us what he is like, to show us what love and forgiveness looks like and to promise us his help in every situation.

So, two questions today. First, ‘What wilderness are you walking in?’ The wilderness of anger? The wilderness of worry? The wilderness of doubt? The wilderness of hate? Each of us has a different wilderness.

Secondly, ‘Where are you seeking your help?’ Relationships end. Finances disappear. Health deteriorates. Families fail. Governments fall short. But there is one who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is unaffected by the wilderness. He is more powerful than the predators on your journey. He longs for a relationship with you. He longs to be able to be your help in adversity. Jesus of Nazareth walks through the wilderness with us!

So, when you are down…look up!

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