You were there all along — Psalm 124

Don’t look back in anger

This is an invitation to look back at the troubles you have been through and see that when you thought you were alone, God was there all along..

Psalm 124

A song of ascents. Of David.

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.

Isla de Lobos, taken from Correlejo, Fuerteventura, Spain.

The Songs of Ascents or Songs of Degrees are calls from the world to God. In the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, the Songs of Degrees make up the Eighteenth division of the Psalter and are read on Friday evenings at Vespers throughout the liturgical year.

The road to finding God in disability

In 2006 I had the accident that changed my life. Before that time I was healthy and athletic, after that disabled. For the first year after the accident I was making good progress but it soon became clear that improvements despite the best efforts of physiotherapists was slowing down. It became clear that a full recovery was never going to happen.

The series of the psalms called the Psalms of Ascent follow the stages I went through.

  1. Psalm 120: a rant, but also contains repentance, turning your back on what you are ranting about.
  2. Psalm 121: a lament, you no longer find any hope on the things you rely on and turn to God.
  3. Psalm 122: A song of praise
  4. Psalm 123: Setting your mind on God and bringing your troubles to him.
  5. Psalm 124: Looking back though the troubles you have been through and seeing God was there all along.

For me each stage took too long. If only someone had told me that vividly reliving the trauma of an accident was a sign of PTSD I would have gone for help, but no one came up with this advice. Instead I got victim blaming and gaslighting, even from Christians.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel. You cannot put your trust in a recovery that is never going to happen. Instead I found God in my darkest places. The God who I had known through the good times in my life was there in the darkest times also. The bad times are still bad, the dark times are still dark, but if you allow yourself to look for him, Jesus, the Suffering Servant of God is there in your troubles. So I sing praise to God who has healed me of the grief of becoming disabled.

There are other stages I have gone through, the next is covered by Psalm 125, which is next week.

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