I was reminded of something today when a dear friend asked for prayer for a situation she found herself in. It was one of those instances that if you hadn’t been there yourself, in the flesh and tears, you may just blow it off and think to yourself “Aw heck, this will go away. She’ll be fine. Sure, I’ll pray for her, but she’s going to be OK.”
And then I remembered The Pit.
The Pit that is that mysterious spot between your throat and your stomach that keeps you from swallowing. Sometimes it’s so big it keeps you from throwing up, and you really wish you could. It’s a genuine physical symptom caused by a powerful emotional reaction to something that simply rips you apart inside, and you have no idea what to do, where to turn, or what the future holds. Only people you deeply love can elicit the symptoms of The Pit.
Because The Pit lies right next to your heart.
And I could feel her Pit.
Some things happen to others that you swear will never let happen to you, because after all, you’re in control. But you soon realize you were never in control and you're brought to your knees in prayer, face down on the ground in tears. The situation may not be over, but at least you know you’ve been heard. And in submitting that grief and despair to Jesus, you know you’ve done everything you can. The rest is up to Him.
I’ve felt The Pit many times over the last few decades, with some form of it going back to my childhood. Life was pretty easy back then, but I do remember the time when I was about 7 that I thought I was going to drown in a swimming pool on vacation and the time our cat ran away, never to appear again. Those moments of despair were always fleeting – there was someone or something to care for me, distract me, or most importantly, hold me. Prayer hadn’t matured in me yet.
I still get The Pit. I have been able to perfect worrying into an art form, despite the fact that the most often repeated command in my Bible is some form of “Do not be afraid.” Philippians 4:6 could easily be my life verse. When I look back at The Pit over the last few years, seemingly hopeless situations have all turned out OK, if only temporarily. They haven’t necessarily gone away. I haven’t changed other people. Fortunes haven’t been showered upon me. And more than likely, circumstances didn’t change.
What changed was my heart. What changed was the feeling of hopelessness. What changed was the feeling of helplessness. I believe you can choose hope, but in my weakness, it's a difficult choice sometimes.
The Pit was back today. But just for a short visit. I know it will be gone eventually and I find comfort in that.
Tonight when I went to the gym, I realized I forgot my iPod. How was I ever going to get through my treadmill and EFX without listening to Pete, Andy, or Craig? I count on these guys every week for their messages and to take my mind off my aching, aging body. I decided it was meant to be - a sign that I was supposed to ignore the message of someone else and have an hour long chat with God. It worked. And I got two signs that yes, everything will work out in the end.
Because if it hasn't worked out, it isn't the end.
At one point I looked down at the digital display on the treadmill and it read 1.11 miles. A half hour later the display on the EFX read 111.1 calories. This was my sign. I wanted to feel utter peace. I didn't, but I did feel better. Progress.
I heard a pastor say one time (like I can remember which one, after the dozens of podcasts I listen to every week), “Our deepest, darkest moments were at a time when we were unconsciously running from God.” Perhaps I have been.
I know The Pit will be gone again in time. It always goes away. It just occasionally returns to remind me that I am not alone, I can’t do this alone, there is only One who can help me muddle through. Lurking in the dark shadows is the one who keeps trying to pull me away. He will not succeed.
I will make a conscious effort to run towards God today. He wants to take The Pit from me.
No, actually, He insists I give it to Him. He wants me to be a good steward of my abilities and resources to help myself while He continues the work on my heart.
It is a daunting task. Ever felt The Pit?
I pray my friend gets rid of her Pit today, too.
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