From a Desolate Pit to a Song of Praise
By Aaron Brown
“I waited patiently for the Lord, and he turned to me and heard my cry for help. He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and they will trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40: 1-3)
A Desolate Pit
The Bible is marked by many different instances of suffering. The Isralities wandered the wilderness for forty years. Job lost his family and fortune. Jesus was put to death on the cross. The reasons for these tragedies vary, but the outcome is the same. Sorrow. Pain. Tears.
In our own lives we bear witness to different tragedies, some of which we expect, others that come as a surprise. Death. Illness. Conflict.
In the face of hardship, we can easily find ourselves in the same place mentioned in this psalm, the desolate pit. This is a place without hope, without faith, a dark place where we feel stuck.
However, as evidenced in this psalm, along with the Bible’s stories of the Israelities, Job, and Jesus, the desolate pit is not the final destination for those who put their faith in the Lord.
There is hope, and with hope comes a song of praise.
A Song of Praise
In the aforementioned psalm, David is doing two things - waiting and praying. This allows him to maintain the correct perspective of both his circumstances and his God. Though he laments and cries, David also knows God. He trusts God’s ability to provide and deliver him from tragedy. Thus, he decides to pray.
In his prayer, David possesses such a confidence in the Lord, that he is able to wait on God's answer patiently. This is patience - waiting without complaint. David doesn’t pretend to be happy, he cries. Yet, he also does not delude himself into believing the desolate pit is his home. He has hope.
As he waits and as he prays, God does eventually answer David. Out of the pit he comes and onto rock he stands.
There’s a contrast between the muddy clay and the rock. The former is unstable. The latter is firm and secure, much like God’s sovereignty over David's life, and much like David’s faith in God.
After being restored and delivered, God gives David a new song, that is, a new experience of which to glorify God’s name. With the faith that David already held before, he has now been reaffirmed all the more.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
With enough age and experience, each of us will eventually relate to this psalm. There will be multiple desolate pits we encounter in life, but with them come many opportunities to find new songs as well. What’s difficult about being in the pit is that sometimes we sink so deep that we lose sight of God. Our vision grows dark, pitch black even. And without our sight, our perspective turns bleak. We don’t see God, only the circumstance.
Instead of hope, we have despair. And there’s seemingly no faith we can muster. We’re even tempted to wonder, how long? We complain and lament the suffering as unfair, unwarranted, and completely devastating. If only God would just help us and prove that He cared. In truth, God’s love hasn’t changed, only our perspective of Him.
Even when we fall, even when we fall deep, there is always hope. We know this because though circumstances vary, though we change over time, God is always the same. The deliverance He offered in one season of life can and will come again. We just have to believe. And if we are having a hard time believing then we must find ways to remind ourselves of this truth. Scripture helps, as does community, notes on the bathroom memory, a Sunday sermon. The truth is that escaping the desolate pit is not a matter of if but when. That’s a great song to be able to sing.
Future Reading (and Listening):
“It’s Been So Long” by Marvin Winans & Perfected Praise Choir
Photo credit: Zac Durant/Unsplash
Aaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”
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