If it had not been the Lord Who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us.
Psalm 124: 2-3
If you are going to battle and you can choose a weapon, what would it be?
If you were going on a journey and you can choose a companion, who would it be?
Our answers to these two questions are probably very secular. When thinking about choosing weapons for a battle, we might think of a military battle, and consider guns, bombs, and tanks. When thinking about a journey, and who we would take with us, we most likely think of our spouse, our parents, our children, our best friends.
These questions, however, do not refer to a military battle or a cross-country journey. They refer to our lives, both the daily battles as well as the journey through life. Let’s consider what weapons we carry each day and which companions accompany us along the way.
When we really think about the battles we fight each day, most of us go into battle alone. A teacher stands in his or her classroom in front of students alone. An attorney goes into the courtroom alone. A doctor makes a diagnosis alone. A priest stands in front of the altar alone. And so on. So what do we arm ourselves with? Our wits? Our smarts? Our ego? Or do we arm ourselves with our faith? Despite the fact that I am married, have a child, and have lots of friends, I spend a lot of time alone, especially at work. Even when I’m meeting with someone, and offering counseling or confession, I’m still alone. I’m not partnering with anyone to make a diagnosis of a problem or point someone to a solution. This is why it is so important that we carry faith as a “weapon” into “battle” each day. Because each of us fights a battle just about every day. And that battle might be with a boss or co-worker, it might be with a spouse or a child, or it might be with a friend. However, most battles are actually fought in our heads, as we battle doubt, temptation, and uncertainty. Faith is what bring us patience, focus, purpose and hope. What better weapons to take into battle than the weapons of faith?!
Think about your life journey. Who has been with you every step of your life? For those of us who still have a parent, we might say “my parents.” For those who are married, we might say “my spouse” (except you didn’t know your spouse when you were a child, they came along later). But even if you have a parent, and even if you’ve been married for so long you can’t remember what life was like without your spouse, that doesn’t mean that one day you won’t lose your parent(s) or even your spouse. Let’s put that macabre thought aside for a moment. Even if your parents and your spouse outlive you, and you never have the pain of losing either (even though they will have significant sorrow in losing you), there is no one who walks with us at every step of our lives. My wife isn’t with me in the office as I’m typing this message. She’s across town working. Our son is at school. My mom is in California. No one is walking with me at this moment. Except, the Lord. Only the Lord can walk with us at all times and at all places. I know for sure that the Lord will outlive my time on earth. I may outlive my wife and she may outlive me, but neither of us is going to outlive the Lord. This is why in choosing who will walk with us on our journey of life, the most reliable companion is the Lord. Because mostly likely we will outlive parents, certain friends may come and go, we may even outlive our spouses, and even with all of these people in our lives, there are still many steps we will take alone. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get married, or have friends, or have “life-long relationships.” Only that we should remember that the only relationship that truly lasts FOREVER is our relationship with the Lord. He knew us from the womb. He will know us into everlasting life.
Psalm 124 refers to the journey of the Israelites through the desert to the Promised Land, which is analogous to our journey through life to everlasting life. The Psalmist writes in reference to this journey, that if the Lord had not been with us (them), the anger and violence of enemies would have defeated them, that flood would have swept them away. The Psalmist postulates the question, if the Lord had not been with us (them), how would we have escaped all the calamities that came against us? The answer is that “our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8)
I can speak personally that in my journey of life, many times I feel just like the Israelites. I don’t know where the journey is leading, how long it will take to get there, and what I’ll find once I reach my destination. Enemies lurk seemingly at every turn. And there is the constant threat of flood or destruction. This doesn’t mean that life is terrible or that I don’t laugh and have fun. However, I never get too comfortable, and this has been punctuated by the state of our society this year. Covid in some sense is the enemy lurking around this year. The economy constantly threatens us with destruction in just about any year. Our help, and our hope, then, must be in the name of the Lord, for certainly it cannot be in health and prosperity. It can’t even be in other people—after all, look at how many people passed away this year who at the beginning of 2020 had no thought that they wouldn’t be here at the end of it.
We invest time and money in the things where we hope or expect a big return. We don’t invest time and money in things which are going to bring a negative return. At some point, every weapon will fail. And at some point, even every relationship will be broken. Why? Because at the moment we take our last breath on this earth, we will be alone—we won’t be taking out last breath together with anyone. At the moment we are on the verge of the Promised Land, we will see it alone, and if we are privileged enough to enter it, we will enter it alone. Our seeing the Promised Land will be affected by the weapons we carry into battle we journey there, namely our faith. And the choice of whether we enter into the Promised Land, Heaven, will be the decision not of our family and friends, but of the Lord. Thus, as we journey through life with our weapons of intellect, wit, and accomplishments, and as we travel with family and friends, let us not forget to arm ourselves with the weapons of faith, and to travel with the Lord as our constant companion.
If it had not been the Lord Who was one our side, let Israel now say—If it had not been the Lord Who was one our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters. Blessed be the Lord, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth! We have escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! Our help is in the name of the Lord Who made heaven and earth. Psalm 124
Carry faith into your battles today. Walk with the Lord in every journey!