Isaiah 12: 2-6 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
I used to love to sit and listen to the stories of the older black women in the neighborhood, stories of surviving poverty, heartaches, and lost dreams. But what was amazing for me even as a child was that their faith in God was not lessened by struggles that might have felled someone who had no anchor to cling to in times of troubles.
These women who seemed bent over from working all week at menial jobs that paid low wages and offered them little to no respect would on Sunday mornings put on best dresses and shoes, put their Sunday-go-to-meeting hats on their heads, and go to church. They would sing the loudest, praising God for all that He had done for them through the weeks and years of their lives. He was their source of strength and their salvation.
During the Testimony Service, usually just after devotion and before the preaching, with joyful hearts and smiles and tears, they would relate stories of surviving mean bosses, money to pay bills that miraculously came just when they needed it, and of children kept safe through their answered prayers. The congregation would praise the Lord collectively, as each person found confirmation or hope in their stories told.
It is in our stories of how we made it through and overcame the worst times of our lives by God’s goodness, mercy, grace, and compassion that will give hope to others today, when hopelessness seems so widespread. Others need the gifts of our testimonies.
1 Peter 3:15 reminds us, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. And Psalm 145: 4 (NLT) states, “Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.”
In these times of immense dificulties, with a pandemic, protests to have one’s humanity seen and acknoledged, job and small business losses, and an upswing in domestic violence, our stories of God’s protection, provision, and presence are needed more than ever. Let’s take this time of isolation and stillness to share the stories of God’s love that will help someone who is struggling to hold on to their hope.