It was another early morning. The 5:20 alarm went off as it always does, waking me for another day of teaching. On my way to school, I drove with my eyes fixed on the road, praying I would be ready to meet my twenty-six early morning students in just a few minutes. And then I saw it, a pinkish orange hue highlighting a sky full of cotton puffs. I couldn’t believe it. How many years had I been making this drive and I just now noticed?

If I’m honest, I’ve always had a hard time looking up. On a particularly chaotic day at the treatment center I once worked at, I remember asking our sage psychologist: “What do we do? It’s crazy out there.” His answer? “That’s why the psalmist says, ‘I lift mine eyes to the hills’ (Psalm 121). We are supposed to look up, not at the world around us.” The students we worked with were displaying such severe behaviors, but God needed me to keep my eyes on him, not the events around me. There are many times when this brief conversation has come to mind, and often when it’s much too late: I’ve already stressed, and even despaired at the circumstances around me.

As Christians, we are called to keep our gaze on Christ. To look up for hope and help. To look away from ourselves, and to the One who controls all things

We Look Up When We Lack Faith

Noah was well-respected and righteous. One fateful day, God gave him a seemingly unreasonable command. He was to build an ark that was about 31,000 square feet (Gen. 6:17). God said he would flood the earth because the world was filled with evil. While many scholars believe it was 120 years from the command to build the ark until the flood, others believe it took merely 75 years. In any case, for Noah to work so diligently on a project for so long without understanding the significance of why he was doing so, could not have been easy. For decades, he risked his good standing in his community. His actions must have appeared strange to those around him.

Interestingly, Noah has no dialogue in the Genesis account. This passage simply says, “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him” (Gen. 6:22). While we don’t know what Noah said to God, we do know what he did. He trusted and obeyed God: “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Heb. 11:7) He “looked up” and waited for something to happen just because God said it would. This is a testimony to us in our own seasons of waiting for God to move in our lives. We continue to “look up” to God, trusting in his promises, even when they seem slow to come to fruition.

We Look Up When We Are in Trouble

While Noah was warned of the trouble coming to the earth, many times we experience real trouble without any warning at all. Time and time again, we are going about our daily lives when an unexpected illness, financial strain, broken relationship, and more catch us off guard. My immediate reaction in times like these is disbelief. I’m surprised by the trials and hardships of life. I quickly forget that I live in a fallen world filled with sin and disease. I ask questions like, “How could this happen?” and “Why is God allowing this?” Soon, I ask how he can possibly help me in this seemingly impossible situation.

When we despair, we are in good company. The disciples fully understood this feeling. After a long day of struggling to comprehend several parables, Jesus suggested that they cross the Sea of Galilee. This seemingly simple trip quickly turned to despair as “a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so the boat was already filling” (Mark 4:37). Frustrated because Jesus was fast asleep, the disciples cried out, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (4:38). After simply stating, “Peace! Be still!”, the wind and rain stopped. He then calmly asks them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40). Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. The disciples, however, could only see the storm. They struggled to “look up.”

We Look Up When Things Are Good Too

Noah had a healthy family, community standing, and the favor of the Lord. He believed God and obeyed his command to build an ark even though there wasn’t a cloud in sight. While I would like to think that I would exhibit that kind of unwavering faith, I am not so sure. As believers, we know that this earth, while comfortable at times, is not our home. As Paul exhorts us, “. . . we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands . . . So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:1; 6-7).

God gives us many good gifts to enjoy while we are in this world including the beautiful creation, our family, the work we do, and so much more. We should enjoy them and give thanks. In the end, however, this is not our home. We are citizens of another country. We “look up,” towards a future so glorious we can’t comprehend it. As the writer to the Hebrews says about those in the hall of faith: “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had the opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared them a city” (Heb. 11:13-15).

It’s all too easy to look straight ahead at what is around us. But as we go through this life of both sunshine and storms, we are called to “look up.” Whether we are keeping the faith in the mundane of life, enduring hardship, or enjoying earthly blessings, we look at all of these through a lens of faith, trusting in our God who keeps his promises.

Photo by Caleb Frith on Unsplash

Jessica Roan

Jessica Roan has a Bachelor’s Degree in English Education from Oklahoma Baptist University and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Montana State University-Billings. She is a high school English teacher, mentor, and blogger.  She can be found at She enjoys writing, hiking, skiing, and traveling. She lives in Billings, Montana with her husband and two boys. Her home church is Rocky Mountain Community Church.