I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
When I read this portion of Psalm forty, my memory immediately jumps to a day when I was a kid in a pit. A foolish kid. Construction was happening behind my friend Kimie’s house. Bulldozers had dug a hole for a well or something water-oriented. Mischief usually happened at Kimie’s house, and that day was no exception. We decided it would be a fun adventure to slide into the pit. I went first. She did not go second.
It was deep and dark. I could not catch my breath because the air was restricted. I could not climb out because the sides were muddy, too slippery to scale. As panic seeped in, I saw Kimie at the top. She threw down a long piece of pipe; I grasped it tightly as she pulled me up in a long filthy fight to safety. Strong girl, that one.
Thankfully, it’s a memory of kids being kids with a happy ending. Yet, the sensation of the fear and helplessness I felt at the bottom of that hole come back to me still, a lifetime later.
These days, I am in a season of health struggles and lots of life uncertainty. Depression hangs around quite a bit too. I return to this passage in Psalm forty often, the words copied in my journal because this period of my life feels like a stint in a pit. Not an actual muddy cavern, of course, but a deep dark emotional space where my mind, heart, and soul dwell.
King David, the author of this section of scripture, conveyed his hurt and humanity so beautifully throughout the Psalms. There is much in his sentiment that I can relate to. That I cling to.
Like David, I, too, am waiting for the Lord. I find myself somewhere between the middle of the hole and the top, like I’m sitting on a ridge, with my feet stuck in the muddy side. I can see the sun sparkle over the top, but I am not there. Oh, how I want out, to stand on firm, dry ground with the sun shining on my face.
In verse one, David said he waited “patiently” for the Lord. Gosh, have I had some impatient moments in these eleven months. Yet, I keep coming back to Him in this longsuffering season. In the middle of it all, I keep praising Him. I return again and again in the fearful, tearful moments. In the agony of no answers, I go back to what I know, to the One I know. I seek the familiar words and arms of my Savior.
Where else would I go?
Maybe you, too, find yourself in a pit. Perhaps there are profound disappointments in your life that hang on. And on. Are there prayers that go unanswered? Health and relationship issues that break your heart? This is hard, and you are not alone. Take my hand, and let’s look up to our sovereign God for help.
In the deep end of all the hurt, I practice hope. I pray that someday in some way, my pit life will be used for His glory. I pray your story will be used for His glory, too. May we cling to the fact that God is working all things out. May we remember that even when He seems so far away, He is in the pit with us, holding us ever so tight.
My friend, may God put a new song in our mouths. I pray God will lift us completely out of the slime and mud, and may we lift our faces into the sunshine and stand on the firm, dry ground. Until then, let us hold on as never before to the One who never leaves, who never forsakes His beloved.