At the news of a massacre that seems only miles away, who can console? In the midst of a devastating hurricane season, who can provide? In a world filled with terror, who offers security? In fear, where is comfort? In the midst of inadequacy, who defines worth?
If I look down, I see the tears shed on behalf of those lives lost in Las Vegas. If I look down, I see the heads of those bowed in sadness or even in protest. My heart is broken. If I look down, I might be tempted to only look down. I’m sick of seeing these things. Disaster after devastation and fear covered in reality. And, if I’m being honest, it absolutely terrifies me.
Therefore, if I look inward, I will only find the uncertainty and fear in the depths of my being. I don’t have any answers for this devastation and evil. At the end of the day, I can love and also contribute...but I really can’t make a significant difference, can I? As I watch the footage from inside the concert arena, my stomach literally churns and fear floods my heart. To think that even I could have been at that event...or that my mom could’ve been there. My brother, his son. My dad. My closest friend or even my future husband. In the tender parts of my heart, which is often ridden with anxiety, those types of thoughts are absolutely debilitating. Fear is exhausting.
If I look outward, I might see my closest friend or neighbor who is quick to offer a hug or word of encouragement. Those words are comforting, yes. They temporarily conquer my ever present fear of being alone. The significance of surrounding ourselves with people who love and support us cannot be underestimated. I find occasional certainty in the affirmation of others and can temporarily hold onto loyalty in the accountability of those I trust. If I’m not careful, I can discover bits and pieces of my worth in the opinions of those that surround me. I can relish in the areas of life they compliment and I can find my self-worth and strength in their opinions of me. If those opinions are not exactly what I hope to hear, I often revert to looking inward...and we’ve already discovered that not much comes from that.
Looking back might be an option….back to the days when things like massacres didn’t happen. But has there ever been such a day? As a matter of fact, I like the accomplishments and moments of glory from the past. We do it in the government and even in our jobs. We look back when we speak of accomplishments in school. I look back to times where I felt I was making a difference and was capable of holding everything together. We celebrate our previous achievements. But there is absolutely no way to move forward when our eyes are focused on what is behind us.
So, then what? My heart is too broken to console myself and those around me are too unreliable to faithfully hold me up. Looking down and only mourning offers no consolation, but looking backwards hinders any movement forward.
“I lift my eyes up to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let my foot be moved. He who keeps me will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is my keeper, the Lord is my shade on my right hand. The sun shall not strike me by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep me from all evil, He will keep my life. The Lord will keep my going out and my coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” [Psalm 121, ESV, emphasis mine]
I don’t understand evil, terror, fear, devastation, or loneliness. I don’t have all the answers. I do know, however, that the One this passage speaks of does have all the answers and He holds me in the very palm of His hand. It doesn’t always make sense nor do I fully understand, but I have no doubt it is truth. I am certain, however, that if I do not look UP to the One who holds me in the very palm of His hand, I’m left only looking down, inward, outward, or behind. When looking in those directions, there is no help to be found.
~ Emily Harbin