“If the LORD had not been on our side when people attacked us, they would have swallowed us alive when their anger flared against us;”1
One of the beautiful things about Jesus’ choices in the lead up to his death is his constant commitment to have mercy for us. He showed it in his death in a way that echoes through history. But to read his story, told through the eyes of those around him, it becomes obvious that his commitment to giving everything he had to help us was entirely consistent with who he had already shown himself to be. Jesus did for us what we could never successfully do for ourselves. He loved. He helped. Jesus had his eye on those who needed support, and he gave himself generously to them. Those people loved him. Not everybody did.
Jesus was a threat to those who loved using power to hurt others. He called them wolves, snakes, a band of evildoers, liars, children of the devil. And they hated him.
Knowing the cost to himself, he stood firm in support of everybody who needed his help.
If the LORD had not been on our side we would have been lost
So today is Good Friday. It reminds us of the seriousness God attaches to love. His love for us, and the calling we all have to practice love ourselves. The cross is an emphatic statement that the way we treat people matters to him. That he hates the attacks on people he made and cherishes. Today, of all days, is a reminder that if the Lord had not been on our side we would have been lost.
It is a fact that none of us are perfect. Yet there is a difference, and Psalm 124 clearly describes victims and perpetrators of evil. All of us can make improvements, but those who are dedicated to evil, to harming others, place themselves in a dangerous position.
Being a victim of abuse, in so many ways, can be like being caught up in a flood. Overwhelmed by raging waters. Many will relate all too well to the sheer volume of practical things they now need to do to stay afloat: a single parent, a homeless teenager, a person holding down a job while managing PTSD or other effects of the abuse. For many, again, the sense of escape from the flood this psalm describes may not be a reality. Yet this song comes a little way along the pilgrimage. A new and thriving life may not yet be a reality, but the snare has been broken, and they have escaped.
My heart goes out to you if you can relate to this psalm. I hope you find friends along the way.
Please will you stand with victims of abuse?
For those who know someone who is on the journey away from abuse, please, will you do all you can to stand with them? They may well have ideas on what kind of help would be good, and can most likely guide you into the difference between good intentions and true assistance.
On this day we remember the greatest act of mercy in history, from someone who had deep empathy. Jesus invites us to have fellowship with him in that.
If the LORD had not been on our side—
let Israel say —
if the LORD had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters
would have swept us away.
Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.2
Steve WadeOne of the beautiful things about Jesus’ choices in the lead up to his death is his constant commitment to have mercy for us. Click To Tweet