Unpacking Testimony

Posted by on Sep 11, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

Unpacking Testimony

I love words, letters and language! I know that I play with puns, frolic with phonetics and socialize with similes! I also like to tear apart and rebuild words to see what makes them what! I can still remember realizing that fortress and stronghold meant the same thing (because if you didn’t know, “fort” in French means strong)! In the next few paragraphs we are going to dissect the word testimony based on it’s syllables and explore what the implications are for our lives.

It was a friend of mine who first put me on the trail of this word while they were going through some very serious situations. She said, “You can’t have a testimony without a TEST“. I remember thinking that she was absolutely correct! I have found that many Christians don’t even think they have a testimony! Do you think that you have a boring life and no testimony? Don’t worry! Tests will come whether you are looking for them or not and this is where your testimony comes from. We often look at some of the more popular Christian TV personalities or speakers and we wish we could be like them. If we knew what fires and life tribulations they had to go through in order to be who they are, I’m not sure we would think that. I’ve often looked at people who are presenters at marriage conferences and wondered what “life experiences” it would take to be trusted in that position.

The second syllable in this word is “I”. The point here is clear…there is no testImony if it doesn’t happen to “I”.  For you, life happens to “I”. You are the “I” of the storm. “I” will never know the full impact of what has happened to someone else, but “I” will be entrenched in every aspect of the pain, the joy, the loss, and the victories of each of the situations that “I” face.  If “I” bear something or go through it, then “I” will be in a position to understand those around me with similar burdens. No one will say “You don’t understand”, because “I” will have gone through it personally.

Lets stretch testiMONy out a little more as we look at the third syllable. The word “MON” in French is easily translated to “Mine, or belongs to me”. You need to own your story. You have to love your story and not put it down or compare it to others. Your story is good enough. If it happened to you then its relevant and important to God’s plans for our lives. When I was at Bible School in Lower Sackville, we were told the story of a man who came to a church and gave a really amazing testimony. Two weeks later another special speaker came and told the exact same story… someone was evidently a fraud. It turned out that the first fellow admitted, upon confrontation, that he had stolen the testimony because he thought it was so amazing. He thought he’d be doing God and this other person a favor by helping to spread the story. In his mind’s eye someone else’s story was more important than his own.

The last mouthful of the word testimonY is the letter “Y”. If you’ve ever gone through anything difficult you are immanently going to ask a question with the word “Why?” in it.

Why me?
Why did this happen?
Why did they do that?
Why don’t they like me?
Why now?
Why? Why? Why?

There will be struggling and suffering in our lives. Often there are no immediate answers to these questions of “why?” that satisfies the soul. There is nothing worse for a person going through something overwhelming than to be given the pat answers that placate small children, but leave adults bewildered. Yes, Jesus is the answer to many things, but when you are dealing with the death of a loved one or with serious illness, there is something inside us that wants a little more… like “How exactly is Jesus the answer in this situation?”.

Where we find the answers to those difficult questions is in the soul wrenching lives of those who have climbed the dregs of those same obstacles. There is something very comforting about being in the company of someone who has suffered in the same way as you are in the present. They just “get it”. Words aren’t necessary to express the depth of pain that each shares. Just knowing that you can actually survive the weight of the circumstance is enough for many. The veteran of life knows which scriptures to lean on and they can “take you there.”

Several scriptures have helped me understand what and why I have had to go through in my life.

II Corinthians 1: 3-5
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.

1 Peter 1:7
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Revelation 2:10
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

Although I have taken a little “creative license” with the parsing of this word “testimony”, I pray that it will invoke in you a passion to share the things you have gone through and that you might impact the lives of those around you which are beaten down or without hope. If you’ve “made it through the fire”, then find someone who needs you to walk with them. When you have gone through the fire and are able to be there for someone else there will be a comfort for you as well. You may find that maybe there was some purpose to “all of this” after all. If you’re “going through the fire”, then seek out someone you know has “been there” so you can be comforted by Jesus with skin on.

God is never taken by surprise by anything you are going through and He will find a way to turn it for good (Romans 8:28).

Whatever you’re going through keep your spirits up and keep in mind that you’re simply working on your testimony.

One Comment

  1. Thanks for this encouragement, Pastor Andrew!