Written by Jonah Albrecht / September 2017
“’Cause I’ll be by your side wherever you fall In the dead of night whenever you call And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you My hands are holding you”
Many of you may recognize this refrain from the song by Tenth Avenue North called “By Your Side.” A friend shared this song with me one night and it had a real effect on me.
In the first stanza of this song, Mike Donehey, the lead singer, asks many different questions. Why are you striving these days? Why are you trying to earn grace? Why are you crying? Why are you looking for love? Why are you still searching As if I’m not enough? To where will you go child? Tell me where will you run? The questions he asks are quite familiar aren’t they? Countless times in our daily lives we go on autopilot. All thought and consideration of the blessings we have been given go out the window. In what we consider “good times” we still recognize our blessings: a good job, friends, food on the table, a good book to read; but we don’t recognize Who those blessings are from and why they are there. In harder times we don’t even recognize the blessings we have. Instead our focus shifts on ourselves. We want more for ourselves, we aren’t good enough, we deserve better things. We are trying to swim our way up a sheer faced waterfall. It can’t be done and it only makes us feel worse. We are striving, crying, looking for more. Wake up call…it can’t be done. The more we try to swim up that waterfall on our own, the further we are sinking.
This is what happens when we are faced with problems in this world and we look to ourselves for help. When a deer crosses the road right in front of you, the natural tendency is to go for the ditch. The unnatural thing to do is simply hit the deer. It is easy for us to go the natural way, for the ditch. Well truth is, going for the ditch is way more dangerous. You run the risk of hitting a tree, another car, or even flipping your vehicle. Even though hitting the deer is unnatural, you have a greater chance of saving your life. It is the same for Christians. The natural way is to follow our sinful flesh and try to find a way on our own. That way only leads to destruction. The unnatural way is to follow God and let Him lead our lives. This is the way to everlasting life.
Singing a song with only those questions would lead us to feel pretty helpless. But Mike Donehey doesn’t end his song like that, he answers those questions in stanza 2: Look at these hands at my side They swallowed the grave on that night When I drank the world’s sin So I could carry you in And give you life I want to give you life! He is writing this as God speaking to us. To you and me. God says, Look! The holes in my hands! These are the proof that I have conquered all those things oppressing you. I, Jesus, suffered in this sinful world so I could take those waterfalls you are facing and nail them to My cross. My hands, the hands nailed to the cross for you, are holding you. I will make sure you can overcome the waterfall, your personal waterfall.
Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” This is the life that Jesus has won for you, this is the life that Jesus wants to give you. Freedom from the law of sin and death. Freedom from the feeling of striving, crying, looking for more.
Donehey solidifies this in the refrain that he repeats 4 times. And I’ll be by your side wherever you fall In the dead of night whenever you call And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you My hands are holding you. Read through that refrain again and this time, replace every “your” and “you” with your own name. Yes, God has promised this to you. Jesus’ sacrifice has made this your new life.
“He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 121:3-5 This promise is reiterated throughout the Bible. God never forgets and He always forgives. There is nothing too stupid, too menial, too unworthy for God. You are His child and He will always listen to your prayer. Will it always be what you want to hear? Will it always be answered right away? No, but God knows what is best for you. That’s why He sent His Son to pay for your sins.
Even with this new life we will face waterfalls as long as we live. We will have those feelings of striving and crying. But, we are no longer facing these things alone. We are no longer helplessly drowning in our own sorrow. In the last verse Donehey nails the reason perfectly: ‘Cause I, I love you I want you to know That I, yeah I’ll love you I’ll never let you go.
Jesus loves you. These trials in your life are there to call you closer to Him. A reminder in the good times and bad times, Hey you still need God.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” Jeremiah 29:11 Where else would you rather fall, then into the arms of our Lord!?