“ I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life.” (Lamentations 3:55-58, English Standard Version)
We’ve all been there, right? In the pits? Maybe your pit didn’t look like my pit. Maybe yours was deeper. Maybe mine smelled worse. But, when you’re in the pit, you’re really not thinking about comparisons AND you really don’t want to hear about someone else’s pit. “Well, if you think that was bad, let me tell you about …”
Seriously, a rousing game of “I can top that” doesn’t help anyone in the pits. And anyone who tells you that hearing about someone else’s problems will make you feel better about yours is … well … as Granny used to say, “full of prunes.”
There is a lesson in these verses from Lamentations, both for those who are in the pits, and for those who know someone in the pits.
If you are in the pits, call on the Lord. That is not a quick easy answer that just says, “Oh, pray about it and it will all be fine.” You may have to go to the doctor. You may need counseling, medication, and lifestyle changes. You may need a better support system. God may choose to work through any or all of those processes. But starting with Him is an acknowledgement that He truly is your Source and that there are things that only He can do.
There was a time for me, not so long ago, that all I could pray was this phrase based on one verse of Psalm 23, “Lord, please restore my soul.” That was my starting place in a lengthy climb out of the pits.
If you know someone in the pits, call on the Lord on their behalf. Give them the gift of your supportive presence and prayers before you offer any words of wisdom or sympathy. And for heaven’s sake, don’t tell them: (1) It could be worse, or (2) Just pray more and you will get better, or (3) Everything happens for a reason. All of those have a kernel of truth, but none of them is helpful.
The best words you can say are, “I love you and I’m praying for you.” And then really do it.
Question: Who do you know that needs this truth today?