If anyone ever told you that following Jesus would make you healthy or wealthy, they were lying. Just because we read our Bibles, go to church, and love our neighbor doesn’t mean we get a free pass on trouble in life. In fact, as followers of Jesus, we sometimes get extra portions of hard times. It’s not a great sales pitch, but it’s the truth.
Psalm 120 begins with the reality of distress in life—but it also reminds us that we have Someone who can rescue us. The psalmist testifies that when he called to the LORD in his trouble, the LORD answered. What God has done in the past matters for us in the present.
In fact, our faith is grounded in God’s past actions. This is at the heart of Christianity. The patriarchs of Genesis remembered God’s faithfulness to Abraham and then to his son Isaac and then to his son Jacob. Four hundred years later, the Hebrews in bondage in Egypt put their hope in the fact that their God was the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israelites after the exodus and through the rest of the Old Testament clung to the truth that God led them out of Egypt with a strong arm and an outstretched hand. Many centuries later, the early church banked its life on the reality that Jesus had died, been buried, and rose again.
For us today, all of these past actions of God are reasons to trust his faithfulness. As the people of God, we proclaim that our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God who led his people out of bondage in Egypt; the God who manifested himself fully in the person of Jesus Christ, who died, was buried, rose again, ascended to heaven, and sent the Spirit to dwell among us in his place. Our faith is grounded in what God has done in the pages of history.
And our faith continues to be grounded in the story God keeps writing. We could spend hours rehearsing the things God has done in our lives—the ways he has shown himself faithful by providing for us, leading us, comforting us, teaching us. The list goes on and on and on.
With the psalmist of Psalm 120, when the present and the future are more uncertain than usual, we look back. We remember that God has been faithful.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come;
’Twas grace that brought us safe thus far,
And grace will lead us home.
(Preview: Next week we’ll reflect further on the value of remembering.)