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. (Psalm 40:1-3, NIV)
Yesterday’s reading emphasized, for me, that our only hope is the Lord. The verses today put my thoughts to deliverance and blessing–a blessing that is born from hardship. Not only that, but how through situations likened to pit, muck and mire, the Lord’s deliverance magnifies his glory for all to see.
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly. (Psalm 40:9-10, NIV)
I’ve usually been one to want a way out of a hardship, and not a way through it. I am not alone in a hardship–there are others who either walk alongside or who walk away. Those who stay–do they know they are blessed?
Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
2 The Lord protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
3 The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness. (Psalm 41:1-3, NIV)
I haven’t always looked for the blessing from or the honor due to God in a trial. In fact, I may have been more preoccupied with the details of the pit and the muck and mire. Certain events this year have caused me to look at life differently. One being, on a lighter note, a self-imposed (inflicted!) challenge (75 Hard) that I had to restart several times. I ended up getting a copy of the book (originally I was just going off the checklist), which was key in reframing the purpose of the challenge: to develop mental toughness. In what could be a long story, God used the purpose of mental toughness and paired it with my walk with him in a situation where I not only needed his guidance and kindness, but also needed the mental toughness to step into conflict with maturity and composure.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:11, NIV)
Life really does have a lot of conflict, hardship and trial. Lord, I want to handle the “little” situations in a way that honors you. These little things prepare me for the bigger things. Again I ask, “How do I want to show up in the world?” The answer unchanged: like I am the Lord’s.
Lord, you know I’ve made a lot of excuses. I’ve whined and complained. I’ve avoided hard situations out of my own fear and discomfort. All of these things have kept me dull, weak and ineffective. Thank you for being with me the other day when I picked up the phone. Thank you for putting scripture in my mind to hold my focus. Thank you for putting a new song in my heart.