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“My Faith Looks Up To Thee”

I have heard many-a-person, over my 35+ years in ministry say, when asked how
things are going, “Things are looking up”, meaning that their situation seemed to be
improving. But that little phrase is often simply a note of ‘hope-so’ optimism. ‘Looking
up’ in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ is a far different matter, isn’t it? It means
that whatever the circumstances we are in, or going through, we are trusting in Christ
to meet our need, not just for time, but also for eternity.
One of my favorite hymns, ‘My Faith Looks Up To Thee’, exemplifies this. The
words of this hymn were penned by a man called Ray Palmer when he was only twenty-two
years old. At the time of writing he was struggling with discouragement, was in rather
poor health, and was experiencing a critical lack of funds! So we might say that things
weren’t exactly ‘looking up’ for him at all. But he was not content to dwell upon that.
Instead, he was ‘looking to the Lord’. At the time of writing, he says, it was just a
poem, thoughts on paper. Ray Palmer was simply putting down in writing how he felt at
the time, but he said that he did so, with a deep consciousness of his own needs. It
was an inclusion in his daily journal, we might even say – ‘His Blog’, and he said later,
that when he wrote it, he had no thoughts of ever sharing it with another!
Ray Palmer lived back in the mid to late 1800’s, and I think that what gives this
particular hymn its devotional power through nearly two centuries is that we can, when
reading the words, or singing them, almost sense his personal feelings, even perhaps
identify with them. Palmer says that he wrote this poem ‘with very tender emotion’, and
that when he came to write the last few lines ‘he found himself in tears’.
Many of us I am sure have looked to the Lord in a time of need just as he did,
and we might well agree with the prophet Micah as he puts it in Micah 7:7, “But as
for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God
will hear me”.
That kind of ‘Looking’ is the look of saving faith. But faith doesn’t
simply end with our salvation, does it? No! We need to go on trusting the Lord daily,
even moment by moment. God’s Revealed Word tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that we
must, “Walk by faith, not by sight” . And that’s it! That’s exactly what this old hymn
of faith tells us, that through all our days, we should be, as Hebrews 12:2 tells us,
“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith”.
In this new year, 2022, let’s determine to do just that as we sing:

‘My Faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior Divine.
Now hear me while I pray, take all my guilt away,
O let me from this day – be wholly Thine!

Amen to that!