So there’s this verse in Revelation that gives us a peek into the future and how the story will end. It says the Christians overcame the enemy, that ancient serpent, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.
“Testimony” is a powerful word, more than we usually realize. Among other things, I think it means telling our story, and not keeping truth to ourselves.
Listening to each others’ stories–giving testimony to what God has done–can be strengthening, encouraging, and helps keep us from feeling alone in our life experiences. This can be a method of spiritual warfare, fighting shoulder to shoulder, and reminding each other to keep heart.
Does listening to someone’s testimony also sometimes take you aback, just for a second? It does for me.
Not often, but now and then, I hear or read a glowing testimony and it leaves me with a little thud inside. I don’t mean to be cynical. I don’t want to be hard or skeptical. But sometimes I want to say, But what if that necessary phone call hadn’t come 5 minutes later? What if that long night of the soul hadn’t been relieved the next month? Would He still be great and faithful and a help in time of need? Is your good story the reason you love Him?
I ask this because sometimes your testimony doesn’t have a tidy, happy wrap-up where all the pieces fit and everyone is smiling and the house looks like a catalog. Mine doesn’t, anyhow. Don’t get me wrong–I love my life, and I laugh a lot, but I also weep a lot and my heart gets shattered regularly.
Because we’re on a battlefield and it’s not pretty. There are cosmic-sized wagers going on over every soul. There is a snake who is bent on killing and destroying saints, and he fights ugly.
Beyond that, God is generous and merciful and long-suffering, but He will not be bargained with. He’s not a genie for us to rub and get our pet wishes. His purposes are wondrous but unsearchable, and we very often don’t see through His infinite decisions.
So sometimes your story script has the doctor saying words you don’t want to hear..
Or your husband absconds.
Or your old Bible and journal are stolen along with your van.
Or the troubled relationship stays troubled.
You can add your own list of griefs and losses, and they are real and not just something to brush away with a pat answer.
Those stories don’t come out so quickly in a prayer and praise service when the moderator asks for testimonies. Because it feels weird to tell a story without a sweet ending. Or it hurts so much that we’re afraid we’ll bawl all over the pew.
But that grief? That loneliness?
That’s your testimony, and a powerful one that can be used to wreck the enemy. Because if it’s about how you’re talking to God about it, your story includes trust.
The people we consider giants of faith were probably sometimes silent when their friends gave sparkling accounts of how God came through for them. They were misused, misunderstood, and didn’t get what they were asking God for. But they are the witnesses in the grandstands now, cheering for us, saying “Keep going! Keep talking to Jesus–look at Him! The best part of your story is still coming!”
Think of Hannah, who was blubbering so desperately that she was mistaken as a drunk. Before she knew how her story would finish, she was beating on God’s chest, imploring, not denying her raw ache. I bet she’s in the grandstands now, saying, “Go on–tell God how much it hurts–He can take it! He has the whole world in His hands–you can TRUST Him–He’s SAFE!”
God’s blessing comes to the one who trusts, the Psalmist says, and trust means being honest with God.
Trust doesn’t insist on answers and solutions.
Trust weeps because she knows her God sees and collects her tears.
Trust says “though He kills me, I will trust.”
And “even if He doesn’t deliver us, we will not bow down.”
And “even if the fig tree doesn’t bud, I will rejoice in God.”
Trust never swaggers but croaks out, “I believe; please help my unbelief.”
Trust holds onto His promises and believes His goodness even when the agony doesn’t end and the answer doesn’t come in 5 minutes or one week.
Sometimes I think our tidy testimonies are fine and good but border on implying “God did x,y,z for me, and so now I know He’s big and trustworthy.”
I think the saints’ stories that defeated the enemy were not the chirpy, tidy, sparkling testimonies that are often in the periodicals or the Sunday morning share times. They were the stories that said, “Life stinks right now–my brother got sawed in two pieces yesterday–but I know God is still good.” (Please don’t hear me knocking beautiful, glad stories of God’s provision. The point here is that those aren’t the only stories out there, and what then?)
Trust is most visible in the dark, in the loneliness, in the scary diagnosis, in the fallout from the enemy’s attack. Trust is maybe the loudest, clearest defeat to the enemy.
It says we will go down fighting for Light and Truth and we will not swallow lies or follow the mini-gods of pleasure and ease or despair that tantalize us.
He blesses trust with His presence, the greatest gift possible.
And His presence defeats the enemy.
That’s why your testimony is worth so much.