Upon a Rock
Last summer, my husband watched a Netflix documentary about rock climbing, and that’s all it took. One class at the rock climbing gym, one “practice climb” in Tennessee, a hundred YouTube video tutorials, and six months later – I find myself looking for a firm place to stand on the side of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Punta de Tralca, Chile.
AND I LOVED IT!!!
Maybe one day, I’ll write a post entitled, The Perks of Submitting to Your Husband’s Crazy Ideas, or, How to Get Your Parents to Pray for You More. But today, I wanted us to hang out with another “climber” who found a firm place to stand.
“Climber”, psalmist, harpist, shepherd, king, and giant-knocker-outer David was inspired by God to write one of my favorite psalms – Psalm 40. Here are a few details about this psalm:
David wrote this psalm about being (or at least feeling) stuck in a place where he did not want to be. It’s a two-part song. In part one (verses 1-10), David describes how God got him “unstuck.”
In part two (verses 11-17), he’s stuck in yet another “pit.” Not only does part two show his trust in the Lord to lift him out again, but it is a foretelling about how Jesus allowed himself to to be “stuck” on the cross, and how God lifted him up from the grave and gave him a firm place to stand (or sit) at God’s right hand in heaven.
I encourage you to read the whole psalm, but for now, I’d like to focus on the first four verses.
Psalm 40:1-4 (NIV)
1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 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.
3 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.
4 Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Let’s take a look.
“I waited patiently.” v1
Good for you, David. I’m glad at least one of us can be patient. (Insert slight sarcasm and eye roll.)
I think we can all relate to that tendency to not wait on the Lord. We’ve probably all become impatient at one time or another, as we wait for God’s direction, answer, healing, comfort, assurance, provision, or whatever else we’re sure we need at a specific time. We kick and scream as any good control freak would, only to find ourselves even more stuck in the end.
As we wait, may we learn like David did by the second part of the song, that even when troubles without number surround us (verse 12), we can still confidently say, “God, YOU are my help and deliverer” (verse 17).
“Out of the mud and mire.” v2
I love M&Ms, but not the mud and mire kind. Other versions translate it as “miry clay.” Either way, it paints a picture of a really wet, sticky, mud and clay mixture that you can’t get out of on our own. In fact, the more you try to struggle and figure it out on your own, the more stuck you’ll be.
We all have our own mud and mire. We’re not sure what David was going through in part one of this psalm, but since he doesn’t mention a big war or life-threatening illness, it’s possible that the mud and mire was all internal. Maybe he was depressed. Maybe he was insecure. Maybe he was ashamed. Maybe he thought he would be “farther along” in life by that point.
Our inner mud and mire can be just as sticky (and maybe even more) than even the most difficult or tragic external circumstances.
I remember one season of my life in which I was so depressed, I struggled with suicidal thoughts. The thing that kept me even more stuck was my choice to listen to the condemning voice of comparison that daily shouted, “You’ve got it so much easier than so many people in this world! What are you crying about?! You’re such a spoiled baby!”
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Don’t struggle on your own.
Wait patiently while trusting our Loving Father to lift you out.
“A new song in my mouth.” v3
But what if I don’t feel like singing? I love the practical advice Pastor Steve Fuller shares in his article:
“Look to Jesus expectantly. Pray and ask Him to help you worship. Set your heart on the truth of who God is as revealed in Christ. If worship is fire, then truth is the fuel that causes the fire to burn. The more fuel, the hotter the fire. So focus prayerfully and relentlessly on the truth in the songs, the prayers, the Scriptures.”
“Blessed is the one who trusts.” v4
Dear Heavenly Father,
We have no reason to not trust You, but sometimes we forget that Your ways are higher and better and wiser than our ways. You are the One who lifts us up and gives a firm place to stand. Help us to not give in to condemning comparisons. Help us to give up our hard-earned control-freak status. And help us to fix our eyes on Your Son Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith in You. Amen.