Remember using that phrase? The Free dictionary describes the pits as being in the worst possible situation. Anne of Green Gales would have liked that expression. Remember how she used to say she was in the depths of despair? Miranda thought she was being a little melodramatic. Surely not – or should I say, Shirley not! Saying I’m in the pits isn’t far behind: in fact, it outranks depths of despair in the dramatic department. Anne dug herself out every time. When you’re in the pits, you’re going nowhere fast.
In the pits comes from the experience of falling down a deep well or into a cistern. Falling into a pit is serious, even lethal, stuff. Ask Jessica McClure, who, at 18-months, fell down a well in Texas in 1987 and it took 58 hours, dozens of rescue workers, and the interest and prayers of an international audience to get her out.
The Bible uses the word pit in two different ways. One use is a synonym for the grave. The other is the same Hebrew word as cistern, a hole used to collect water. Sometimes those cisterns were abandoned so they had no water in them. At other times, there was still water in the bottom, and the cistern was deep enough to have a layer of squishy clay. So, if you fell into one of those cisterns; not only were you trapped but you would get stuck and pulled down into the oozing sediment. That picture is enough to make my skin crawl.
Welcome to the world of stuck
One aspect about being in the pits is clear. You aren’t getting out of there by yourself. You are:
- Helpless to help yourself
- Alone – there’s only room for one
In a pit, you face your own mortality, vulnerability, and limits. Helpless to help yourself and survival looks tenuous.
You feel alone but you aren’t the only one
Joseph was in a pit. Put there against his free will by brothers who were supposed to like him but didn’t.
Jeremiah the prophet was also in a cistern. It was a great place for a prisoner. No escape route provided.
Jesus compared the insanity of a legalistic Pharisee attempting to teach someone about God to that of a blind man leading another blind man – they’d both fall into a pit. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.
More than a hole in the ground
Today, most of us don’t run the danger of falling into a cistern but we still have plenty of pits. Have you ever been in the pits?
- Financial indebtedness
- Inter-generational sin
- Dysfunctional family
- Entanglement of sinful choice
- Threats of oppression and harm from those who hold a vendetta against you
I didn’t ask if you have experienced any of these. Remember the description of “in the pits” – so deeply trapped in a situation that you can’t get out by yourself.
Are you there?
- Failure looms imminent.
- Sucked into a quagmire of despair
- No chance of ever getting better.
- Fear that your residency in the pits will destroy you, your soul, and your hope.
Maybe there are multiple issues. Shouldn’t there be a statute of limitations on the number of troubles we face at any given time, you want to ask.
Maybe that’s where you are now. No hope. No help.
Look at Psalm 40:1,2:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. 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.”
God promises He can rescue you from the pit. The Psalmist prayed for that kind of rescue.
Don’t reserve your prayers for the safe zone where there is a modicum of room for you to still have a part in the answer. God is a Pit rescuer. He deals in the impossible. He’s the Go-to Guy when there is no one or nothing left.
God told Jeremiah:
“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? – Jeremiah 32:27
God’s rescue may not be instantaneous. Each day He may point out another foothold. He may have to wrap His arms around you and hold you tight until the danger passes or the dark of night breaks into dawn. You may have to relinquish complete control to Him and become as deadweight, utterly dependent on His strength to pull you out. Trust him.
I don’t deserve it.
Entitlement is irrelevant. God wants to lift you up out of your impossibilities, not because you’ve earned it, but because you need it. If you could have fixed it yourself, you would have been out of there a long time ago.
That’s the essence of grace – God giving you what you need, not what you deserve. God doing what you are incapable of doing yourself.
I’m in the pits. What do I do now?
You can look at the walls of despair or you can look up to the hole of light above you and acknowledge your only chance of rescue. God is at the edge, waiting for you to lift your arms to Him.
The Psalmist continues:
“He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” – Psalm 40:3
When God pulls you out, you become a recipient of His grace. In fact, you won’t be the only beneficiary. You’ll have an entire chorus line rejoicing at what God has done. Look how the world rejoiced when baby Jessica, the 33 Chilean miners, or those twelve Thai soccer team youth were rescued. God’s rescue of you will lead others to celebrate and deepen their trust in a God who delights to do the impossible.
Trust Him. He has said He can pull you out of the pits. And God always keeps his promises.
Share with us. How has God pulled you out of an impossible situation?