July 24 2002 at approximately 9:00p, at the Quecreek coal mine in Summerset county Pa., over 50 million gallons of water trapped nine miners 240′ below the surface in a 4′ high shaft for 77 hours. At one point, the men fearing their deaths was less than an hour away, wrote notes to their loved ones, said their prayers and tied a rope connecting them together so that when they died, they stayed together. However, at that time, the pumps were becoming effective and the water crested and started to recede. At 2:45am on July 28 2002 the last miner was pulled out of the pit in a 22 inch cage through a 24 inch hole. Psalm 40:1-3 literally came to life for these men that day.
Scripture says in Psalm 40:2 “He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings.”
What do you think of when you read “horrible pit” and “miry clay”? I think we all can agree that they’re dirty, they’re dark and they cause stains. There’s nothing clean and proper about it. It’s messy. The more you struggle on your own, the more stuck you get! Some of you maybe in a pit, spiritually, emotionally, etc…, you may be feeling like you’re drowning, suffocating, you’re at a point where there’s barely enough space to breath. You must know this, you’re not going to get free unless you have help. I can’t hold your head up, but I can point you to freedom. That freedom is Jesus Christ!
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that ministry is messy. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that if it’s done right, you’re going to deal with and in areas of people’s lives that many may be leary of. Often I feel when folks think of ministry, they think of preaching, teaching, maybe even working nursery, (which on second thought can be messy in its own way) but the type of ministry I’m referring to are the individuals who help those who struggle with emotional scars, personal tragedies, temptations, addictions, sins, etc… In their lives that are taboo in many mainstream congregations. What do you say to a female that’d been raped? What do you say to a man that was molested by a trusted adult? How about the young couple who just lost their child? Or the parent who’s child is lost in their addiction? The list goes on and on and on and I’m here to tell you as an associate pastor, that there aren’t always words. I’ve found that many, if not most,folks aren’t looking for words, they’re looking for someone to just care. To listen to their hurt and to hurt with them. A shoulder to cry on. The fact of the matter is it’s hard to see the hope when you’re in the midst of your hurt and sometimes we lose our song.
The pressures of life, the pressures of family problems or the pressure of sickness can, if we allow it, snatch our song and some morning we wake up and realize it has been awhile since we’ve caught ourselves singing. I think the Psalmist found himself in that situation. He has been bogged down by the problems He faced. He has apparently lost his song. Whatever “the pit” may have been, it was uncomfortable, it was dark and wet, and impossible to get out of without someone else’s help.
Maybe you’re in a pit today of helplessness, desperation, and apparent hopelessness. The pit is the breaking point. Anything that causes a sense of helplessness and desperation and threatens to ruin life or take it away – that is the pit.
The Psalmist cried out to God in urgency and sincerity while in the pit and God made a way of escape for him. Cry out to God.
Psalm 40:1 I relied completely on the Lord, and he turned toward me and heard my cry for help. 40:2 He lifted me out of the watery pit, out of the slimy mud. He placed my feet on a rock and gave me secure footing. When you’re in a dark, muddy, slimy pit, there is no secure footing. If you can’t stand up, you can’t escape. Furthermore, when you’re in mud, the more you squirm, the deeper you sink. You’re stuck! The Psalmist, overwhelmed by his rescue, thought of “a rock” when he thought of God’s deliverance. He wouldn’t have to sink any more. He could freely move about, unrestricted on a sure foundation.
Matthew 7:24-27 tells us about the wise man who built his house on the rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand.
Have you ever noticed when you’re at the beach how sand sticks to you and invades every personal space you have? Have you also noticed that at the entrance to the beach, most places have a concrete pad to stand on with a shower head to rinse sand off of you before walking down the path made for you leading back to your hotel. You cant clean off sand while you’re standing in the middle of the sand. Like the miry clay and horrible pit, you cant free of the pit and clay if you choose to stay in the pit and clay. You have to stand on the rock (Jesus) in order to get free and get clean.
Psalm 95:1 “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.”
40:3 He gave me reason to sing a new song, praising our God. May many see what God has done, so that they might swear allegiance to him and trust in the Lord!
You have been created to sing. We sing in the shower, we whistle while we work. We, by our nature, love to sing, even when we sound terrible. When you’re in a hole in the ground, you may sing songs, but they’re sad songs – songs about tragedy and misfortune, sorrow and grief, anger and bitterness. But when you get out of the pit, you feel like dancing and singing what the Psalmist called “a new song.” It’s a song that the rescued can sing and it praises the living God. In fact, you’re so happy to be out of the pit, standing on the rock and singing a new song that your rescue story becomes a great witness to others who are still in the pit. May many see what God has done, so that they might swear allegiance to him and trust in the Lord! You’ve been singing sad songs for too long. Sing a new song!
So what do you have to do in order to sing this new song?
- Admit you’re in the pit. You can’t be rescued unless you see yourself as stuck. I think there are many who live in the pit of moral darkness and discomfort and who do not realize how much light, freedom, and hope exists on the outside. This is why our testimony is so important to share with others. It is wonderful on the outside. Jesus died on the cross to make this rescue possible. The song is beautiful. Salvation and song are inseparable because the joy of the Lord generates music in the soul. Cry out to God today. Tell Him, “God, I’m in the pit.” Maybe you’re a believer that has fallen into a pit. Tell Him, “God, I’m in the pit.”
- Ask for His help to get out of the pit. God wants to deliver you from the pit of personal sin or extreme grief or a lost dream or a broken family and give you a new song. Don’t just admit that you’re in the pit. Ask God to help you out of it, “God, lift me out of my pit.
- Wait on God to rescue you. The first reaction when we are in a pit may be to try harder, to get ourselves out, but that may just be tiring us out even more. The new pattern of life calls us to wait patiently. But the funny thing is that most of us when we call out to God for help don’t wait long enough for God to act. After a short while, we start to do things on our own again instead of continuing to ask God and wait for him to act. David waited patiently for God to act and God in his time, acted. He lifted David out of the pit and set him on a rock. Tell God, “I’ll wait right here in the pit until you rescue me.” Because He is faithful and just to do that very thing.