If It Had Not Been for the Lord - Word&Way

If It Had Not Been for the Lord

When was the last time you gave your testimony? Is there anything in your life that you are thankful for?

Terrell CarterTerrell CarterMy testimony is that God has been with me through both insignificant and momentous events. God was with me and my twin brother through the murder of our mother when we were seven years old. God showed up specifically through the sacrificial love that my grandparents and uncles showed towards us. God was there through an accident where the car I was riding in flipped end over end three times and I walked away with only a scratch on my nose. God was with me through my service as a police officer, including foot chases in dark alleys, fights with people who were much bigger than me and times when I could have been shot before I could exit my car.

Through incidents where I knew I was in trouble and I was loudly and clearly calling on God’s name for help, and through times when I was not even thinking about God, God was there for me.

Psalm 124 is part of Israel’s testimony. It is their recognition that throughout their story, God was present and dependable, no matter what the circumstances looked like. The summary of their testimony is found in verse one: “If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side…” For some of us, those words could summarize our lives.

Through this psalm, the writer shows that God’s faithfulness can be seen through God’s consistent practice of protecting God’s people from human enemies and natural elements. God protected them when people tried to destroy them and when nature almost engulfed them. The writer’s clear emphasis is on the fact that, if God had not been on their side, they surely would have perished.

But this Psalm is not just about realizing that life could have gone sideways without God. This psalm is also about Israel’s responsibility to consistently and intentionally remember God’s goodness and praise God for faithfulness shown. Those who were listening to the psalmist’s words were encouraged to bless the name of their deliverer and praise God’s dependability — whether it was convenient or not.

I think there are two theological imperatives in this psalm: We are challenged to remember that God is always present, regardless of what things look like, and we are obligated to thank God when deliverance is provided.

So, I ask again, what is your testimony? Is it that God has healed you of cancer? Is it that God provided you with a job when you most needed or wanted it? Is it that God made it possible for your child to be able to provide care for you when you most needed it? Is it that God blessed you to be able to take care of a loved one when they most needed it? Is it that your body is no longer as strong as it used to be, but your heart and your spirit are stronger than ever?

We all can claim the testimony that we will never have to worry about what it would be like to not have God on our side, because God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. And for that, we all can be thankful. Because of that, we all have a testimony to give.

Terrell Carter is assistant professor and director of contextualized learning at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas, and pastor of Webster Groves Baptist Church in Webster Groves, Mo.