When a person is in danger of being hurt, someone might shout, 'Look out!' When we are in danger of being over- whelmed by suffering, I hope there will be someone there to say, 'Look up!'
When we are weighed down by some burden we can easily become despondent and can find it hard to look beyond the problem facing us; and yet, when we do manage to look beyond the present pain or difficulty we may begin to see some purpose in what is happening.
Some years ago a mother experienced the dreadful pain of losing her daughter. This innocent child had been abducted and, unfortunately, was never to be seen again. During a TV interview, the grieving mother was asked how she was coping. Her reply was, 'When the chips are down you begin to pray.'
When someone is climbing a high scaffold, those watching say, 'Don't look down! Look up!' We could say the same about sharing the Cross of Christ. Don't look down. Look up! If we do look up we will see the hand of God reaching out to bring us through safely.
By fixing our eyes entirely on our present sufferings, we are looking down. Then all too easily we become lost in our anguish, helplessness and grief. But if we think of Christ who gave his life for us, we can find strength. We can picture him hanging on the cross and inviting us to look to him:
'See my head cut by the crown of thorns. See my hands and feet nailed, yes, nailed to the wood of the cross. Gaze into the eyes of my mother as her heart aches for me. Look, and know that you are united with my mother and myself as all three of us accept the mysterious will of the Father.'
During the Second World War, while enemy bombs were falling on London, a small girl prayed: 'Dear God, take care of Daddy and don't let him get hurt. Take care of Mummy and don't let her be afraid. And especially take care of Yourself. If anything happens to you, I don't know what is going to happen to us.'
If that child had looked merely at what was happening around her, she would have seen only fire, destruction and death. But she looked up, she looked beyond what her physical eyes could see, and she saw God.
Her prayer was in tune with today's psalm:
0 Lord, do not leave me alone,
my strength, make haste to help me!
Her response to the crisis was like that of the writer of psalm 121. She lifted her eyes and saw the Lord.
1 lift up my eyes to the mountains:
from where shall come my help?
My help shall come from the Lord
who made heaven and earth.
The Lord will guard you from evil,
he will guard your soul,
The Lord will guard-your going and
both now and for ever