Have you ever felt like you were in a pit? The pit. A deep, dark place of isolation, helplessness, and hopelessness. A place where even God seems a million miles away. Inaccessible. Most of our lives are like roller coasters with peaks and valleys. Times on the mountaintops and times in the pits. If you are in the pit, you are not alone. We’ve all been there.
David wrote Psalm 40 following a time he spent in the pit. Even though the psalm doesn’t tell us exactly what put him there, we know it was a time he needed help. David’s time in the pit was not spent feeling sorry for himself. He didn’t gripe and complain about the pit to others. What he did do gives us insight into how we can handle the times when we are in the pit.
The first thing David did was cry out to God. David knew that if deliverance from this hardship was to come, he had to turn his attention to the only One who could save him. And the One who could save him, and can save us, is God. There are a lot of things that compete for our attention and trust in times like these. But we must reject the other objects where we might be tempted to place our trust. Friends can help get us through difficulty, but friends cannot save us. Only God can save. Things that look like salvation that numb us to our condition only bring temporary relief. And when the numbness wears off, we find we are still in the pit. Only God can truly save. For David, turning to God is his first stop not his last resort.
Not only did David cry out, he continued to cry out until God heard him. Psalm 69 shows another time David was in trouble. He felt as if he was about to die. And David cried out to God over and over. He cried out so long his throat grew dry and hoarse. He cried out so long his eyes were swollen from crying. He is exhausted but he persisted in crying out to God.
The difficulty of being in the pit is the next part of Psalm 40. We wait… patiently. Not an easy task for most of us. But when we wait, we do so with hope and expectation. We wait knowing that the God who has saved us before can and will save us again. This waiting isn’t twiddling our thumbs or foolish hope. It is an active determination to persevere. We will wait. We will expect. We will hope in our salvation. Because God is worth waiting for.
What makes waiting difficult is that God’s timing is rarely our timing. But regardless of how long we might have to wait, we can know that the salvation God will bring will be better than any half-baked solution we could come up with on our own.
The amazing thing about our time in the pit is that God hears us. Psalm 40 tells us that God heard David’s cry and God turned to him. God didn’t throw a rope down to David and say, “Pull yourself up.” He didn’t drop in a ladder for David to climb up. God turned to David, bent down to him, and picked him up. God is the rescuer.
And that’s the story of the Bible. That is the gospel. God bending down to man to bring salvation through the life, death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ.
Not only does God lift us up, he steadies us. When our footing might be shaky, he is with us to make sure our footsteps are steady. He takes us from the pit into a new relationship with him. From hopelessness to joy.
And what is our response? A new song and a new testimony. God puts a new song in our hearts when we are saved. However we had known God in the past, we know him deeper and more intimately now. We experience more of his love and grace, more of his faithfulness and mercy.
We also get a new story to tell. A story for the world to know just how incredible our God is. When God rescues us, others will see and take note. And the psalm says, “Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:3b). Our testimony of deliverance allows others too see our humanity. Christians are not immune from the difficulties and trials in this life. Our story of deliverance shows the world our sin, our hurts, our blemishes, our failings. But it also reveals God’s love and mercy. It shows the world the great depths God will go to save his children. It reveals God’s love.
Are you in the pit? Does your life feel hopeless right now? If so, cry out to God. God is still in the business of rescuing people. And when salvation comes, sing your new song loudly and often so others can see the amazing work God has done in your life. When you are in the pit remember, being in the pit may make you desperate, but God is never desperate. He hears you, will turn to you, and will rescue you.