“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.”
A while ago I shared a God Story in one of our Sunday services, a snippet of the works of God in my life: how God has taken myself and my family from a complicated and unpleasant living situation to a much better one. Truthfully, there is so much more to the story. It was one of those “when it rains it pours” type scenarios. Throughout this time, I have really had to learn that waiting, exercising patience, is a verb. It’s not something you do passively all the time. As the psalmist says, “I waited patiently for God,” but, like him, I still cried, at times literally. I think the relentless crying out is what gets God’s attention. Any parents out there know there is only so much crying out a parent can bear before they act on their child’s behalf. Perhaps it’s not all about the getting what we want, or even need, as much as these experiences shape who we really are.
Not so many months ago, four to be precise, we found ourselves moving into what we thought was to be a very good home. It didn’t turn out that way, sadly. One thing about this house was that its foundations were bad. Regardless of everything else that was the matter, this particular experience seriously challeged my own foundations. As a result, I have thought and prayed long and hard about faith.
Nothing says, ‘draw near to’ or ‘lean on God’ like hard times, right? Well, not always. Life is about choices and it really can go either way. Now, I am not saying that’s how I was heading. To be honest, I am beginning to feel like I am majoring in difficult life situations, one after another. Faith is now my go-to; it’s my only life boat; it’s all that I have. Even with faith as my faithful go-to, I couldn’t seem to activate my go-go-gadget faith arms and get anything flowing. During this period, my frustration was beginning to grow very wild. We had a green light to leave this hideous house as soon as we could and yet, for the first time in our lives, finding another property was hard. At times it felt impossible. We’ve never before had to look for seven days, let alone seven of the longest weeks of my life!
Luckily for me, I have a friend named Jen. She is a storyteller and is often on the hunt for stories just like mine. She messaged me one morning and asked if I had or if I knew of any God Stories. Because I am hilarious, I half jokingly said “if we get this house we are applying for today, I will stand up and be your God story Sunday”. Well, who knew that was all that it would take to get my prayers answered and we would be approved that very day. Note to self for future reference! Funnily enough, it just so happened that I had listed Jen as a character reference for the real estate agent as well!
For my faith to be activated, I had to activate my faith, myself. I had to be willing to step out of myself: and step out I did. At that moment, just like the psalmist, my feet were totally steadied and not only was my burden lifted, I felt like I had a new song and that it would be completely true, that many would see what he has done and be amazed. I don’t know that anyone was that amazed but it is amazing and I am amazed all the time at the faithfulness of God in my life.
If you read Psalm 40 in its entirety, you will notice two parts. The first is David praising our God for pulling him out of the pit. Like every good rescue story, he went on to live hsppily ever after… not. David found himself in another pit, only this time he was strengthened by the truth he acquired in the first pit. His response is probably how we all should respond: remembering God is our helper and our saviour, as proclaimed in verse 17.
So now I know that I’m not just becoming skilled at dealing with difficult situations; God is building my faith. He’s allowed me to be wiped off my feet at times so I can find him on my knees. While I’m walking around flapping like a duck, God is using my last test to prepare me for the next one. I look forward, strangely, to the next one.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
– Tenille McNamara