“I lift up my eyes…
My help comes from the Lord.”
– Psalm 121
– Psalm 121
“My doughnut is looking a little mouldy at the moment,” said Mary during a Zoom group conversation. Now retired, she spent most of her working life as a school counsellor and made use of a tool to teach resilience to parents and children called “The Resilient Doughnut”. One of the wonderful things about this doughnut model is its positive focus. Around the doughnut are a range of factors that impact our resilience and people are drawn to look at what is working in their lives. In particular, it encourages people to think about their relational network and the benefits that flow from connecting with others, such as family, friends, church community, sporting groups, work colleagues and through volunteering.
God has wired us to be relational and we are made to do life in community. Mary, like so many others, lives on her own. She has no family and is feeling her aloneness acutely during this time of lockdown. Just as God said of Adam, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen 2:18), it is not good for any of us to be alone. No wonder she feels that her doughnut is a little mouldy. In fact, the bad smell of mouldy doughnut is probably quite pervasive at the moment as so many of us struggle to recalibrate and figure out how we can connect with others while shut at home. So, what might assist our resilience when our normal social supports are limited?
I love this resilient doughnut model and have applied it in my own life and with others. What keeps my doughnut fresh is what sits in the middle. The doughnut hole is not really a hole, because it is there that we focus on our strengths – “I am …, I can …, I have …” For me, faith sits neatly in this “holey” space and it permeates the rest of the doughnut. Who I am, what I can do and what I have are all shaped by the Lord.
Last week I read Psalm 121, a song for God’s people as they journeyed to Jerusalem. I was moved by these words: “I lift up my eyes to the hills”. I live in the Inner West of Sydney. There are no hills. However, I can lift up my eyes. What can I see? The Psalmist says that “my help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”. I see so much evidence of the Maker of our heaven and earth – I see the sun, the moon, the trees, blue sky…. Rather than looking inward and noticing the mould, I can look up and out and it is glorious indeed.
For me, faith sits neatly in this “holey” space and it permeates the rest of the doughnut. Who I am, what I can do and what I have are all shaped by the Lord.
— Sarah Condie
I may have lost my normal ways of connecting. And Mary, like so many others, may feel like she has lost her connections and her “helper” companions and friends. But she still has the Lord. He is still her helper. He is my helper. He is your helper.
This Psalm is short and pithy. But in its brevity, the Psalmist uses the word “watches” or “keeps” (depending on your translation) five times. God is our helper. He is watching over us. He is an “ever-present help” in our time of isolation and aloneness.
Our helper needs no sleep. His eyes are always watching us. He watches us at night and by day. He watches over all our life—our comings and our goings.
As we journey through life toward the heavenly Jerusalem, here is a song to be sung. Here are words to help us remember to look up and to look out and to see that God is with us and watches over us every step of the way.
Our doughnuts may be a little moldy at present. But we can persevere because of what we have – a God who will continue to “watch over my life” or “keep my life” from this time forth and forevermore. We are known and loved by this God. He has drawn near to help us in the person of Jesus Christ and one day, COVID will be no more, and He will wipe away our tears. Yes, we can lift up our eyes.
“He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
– I Cor 1:8-9