WPC Pulse - January/February 2015
The challenge of patiently “pit-sitting”
Autumn Dawn Galbreath, MD
“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” (Psalm 40:1-3, NIV 2011).
Okay...so I’m a U2 fan. And I love “40,” the U2 song based on these three verses. I like it because it’s an awesome song, and because I remember dancing to it in high school with a guy I was totally crazy about. In high school, I thought it was great that such a cool, popular band had a song with biblical lyrics. But you’ll be glad to know that as an adult I have had much deeper reflections on this Psalm.
I’ve never been in a slimy pit, and I hope that is a claim I can continue to make for the rest of my life. I do not like slime in any form. My daughter, on the other hand, is a big fan of slime and she spends actual money on toys that feel slimy. She has had a gooey substance, creatively called “Slime,” that you squish around in your hands. She has had numerous types of slimy rubber toys that you can throw at the wall and see how long they will stick. She has had a brain-shaped Splat Ball – which is exactly what the name implies. She has had Galaxy Goo and Witch’s Potion, both of which are tubs of slimy stuff that you squish. She loves these things. I think they are gross. I do not like the feeling of the squishy stuff on my hands; I do not like the mess when some of the slime gets separated from its batch and gets stuck on the walls or floors or furniture; and I do not like the stains on the walls that the slimy things sometimes leave. So I think that I would HATE being in a slimy pit – it would be like having all those slime toys surrounding my whole body all at the same time and not being able to get away! Gross! I am very, very grieved for David, the author of Psalm 40, about the whole slimy pit thing. Maybe his slimy pit is metaphorical – for his sake, I hope so! But it paints a very vivid picture for me.
As I think about being inside a pit surrounded by slime and not being able to escape, a lot of words come to mind – and “patient” is not one of them. The last thing I would do in a slimy pit is wait patiently. I would scream and yell for help, and I would do whatever I could to get out. But David says he “waited patiently for the Lord.” He sat in the slimy pit and waited for God to come and rescue him. How could he do that?? My suspicion is that He waited for God because he knew God. He knew God in a deep and real way, and He knew that God was powerful enough to meet his needs. He knew that, though his body was in a slimy pit, he did not need to fear. He knew that God wanted the best for David, and he knew that God knew better than David what was best for him.
In the end, God rescued him. He turned to him, heard his cry, lifted him out of the pit, set his feet on a rock, gave him a firm place to stand and put a new song in his mouth. I love all of God’s action here – all David did was cry out to God and wait for Him. God did all the rest. And the end of verse 3 is my favorite part – people will see and fear God and put their trust in Him, not because of what David did, but because David got out of the way and let God be glorified. That’s the best part of the faith journey – that God doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. He just wants us to trust Him. And as we trust, our relationship with Him deepens and He is glorified. I’m still hoping for complete avoidance of slimy pits...but whatever form my trials take, God’s power is bigger and He will be glorified!