If the Lord had not been on our side

If the Lord had not been on our side

If the LORD had not been on our side—let Israel say—if the LORD had not been on our side when men attacked us, when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive; the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging water would have swept us away. (Psalm 124:1–5)

What are you most looking forward to this year? Hopefully there are some things in the diary that you are anticipating, whether that’s a change of job, a holiday, meeting up with friends or something equally enticing. The start of a new year is a chance to take stock and to be excited about the things that are about to happen over the coming weeks and months.

If we are Christians, then we probably have hopes and expectations about what God might do over the coming year as well. Perhaps we hope that God will give us a deeper experience of His Spirit this year and a greater knowledge of his love and power. Perhaps we expect that God will deepen our understanding of important truths. Perhaps we hope that God will draw us more into his word or prayer this year. Perhaps we long for God to answer our prayers and change our lives. Each one of us probably has different ways in which we hope God will act and do something significant in our lives.

Many, if not all, of those things are great things to desire, to hope for and to pray for. But there is a danger as well. The danger is that we can start to demand something from God, and expect him to act in a particular way. Then we can feel cheated if God doesn’t act in the way we want at the time we want.

That’s where this psalm can be a great reminder. It helps us to see that God is always active in our lives. It is a reminder not only to long for what God might do, but also to look for the things he has already done for us. What would your life be like if God wasn’t active? Where would you be and what would you be like if God wasn’t already at work? The psalm tells us that if God wasn’t on our side, we would be swallowed up whole, underwater, swept out to sea and in any number of dire situations. Yet God has saved us from them all. He has been active in keeping us safe.

So let’s pray that we have a significant encounter with God this year. Let’s ask that we deepen our relationship with Him, and be open to his working. But let’s also pray that God would open our eyes to see what he has already done for us and in us, what he has already worked among us, and be thankful.