“I waited patiently upon the LORD; he stooped to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay ... he put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” (Psalm 40)
I sometimes lose things.
In a world where people have lost their lives; in a world where people have lost their jobs or health insurance; in a world where people have lost children to drugs, or marriages to infidelity, or health to bad genes, bad decisions, or bad luck; in a world where people have lost so much that is of true and enduring value, the loss of a trinket or misplaced doodad is pretty low on the scale of things.
If I have lost some “thing” and have time to look for it, I’m blessed, for I’ve lost so much more over the years – and I know it. Thank God! Without loss, how would we appreciate what we have?
I cannot speak for the rest of creation, of course, as the only things of which I have any knowledge are my own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. But what I do know is that when I have a problem of any sort – major, minor, or something in between – I can almost always trace its genesis back to one spot: me.
It’s always possible someone took off with what’s missing, but highly unlikely. Like most inanimate objects, it did not walk off on its own. But the odds are good it got moved around in some mysterious shuffle and will almost certainly be found – because it has been my experience that I’ll find the errant object and cry, “Ah, that’s right; I put it there. Now I remember!”
None of that is important, of course. The reason this grates on me is because it violates an image I have of myself of being a relatively competent, careful, and attentive person. I want to scream to the rafters, “I do not lose things,” and yet if I pause before shouting, I can recall countless times I have misplaced items, or forgotten where I was going, what I was doing, or what I had intended to say in a conversation.
It is called “being human.” I don’t want to be human, of course; I want to have what God has: a perfect memory and complete power (and maybe an adoring fan-base). Sadly, I am not God; no one is.
When I get into a pickle, it is of my own doing. I may have help along the way, but I’m generally able to get stuck in the muck and mire of life without anyone else’s help.
So the first thing I must do is acknowledge and accept my very human limitations. They do not excuse lapses of good judgment or carelessness, but they go a long ways towards explaining what it is that’s happening. As neat and tidy as I want life to be, it is messy and unmanageable, I’m stuck with it, and there is nothing I can do about it.
I am, in a sense, powerless, but I am not alone. There is a God to whom I cry out when I am in despair.
I don’t mean when I’ve misplaced my glasses or bookmarks; that would be a perfectly silly waste of God’s time. God is with us, in us, and around us a hundred percent of the time. The Bible is clear enough that there is no hole deep enough or deed dark enough that God cannot find us, hold us, or hear us; so to beg God’s intervention for a “thing” just seems irreverent to me.
I believe God is with us in the pit, and that God not only knows the way out of the pit; I believe God IS the way out of the pit. Greater is the One who sticks to us than is the schmuck who’s stuck to the muck!
Psalm 40 reminds us that while we may be good at walking “eyes wide open” into desolate pits and slimy sludge, God is good at seeing, hearing, and patiently rescuing us.
That’s why I look to God; he is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen in this, God’s valley; and I think God’s worth singing about – don’t you?