By David Faust
Some of faith’s heroes lived in caves and holes in the ground (Hebrews 11:38). Jeremiah literally spent time in a pit, lowered into a muddy cistern (Jeremiah 38:6). Even worse, Daniel’s pit had lions in it.
Job’s Pitiful Pit
A pit of despair nearly swallowed Job alive. He suffered physically with boils all over his body. He suffered socially when his former admirers found him repulsive. He suffered emotionally when his children died. He suffered financially when his possessions were stolen and destroyed. He suffered spiritually when God seemed unresponsive. He suffered intellectually when his friends’ attempted explanations failed to satisfy his mind.
Job’s young friend Elihu tried to offer sympathy. “I am the same as you in God’s sight,” he said. “I too am a piece of clay. No fear of me should alarm you, nor should my hand be heavy on you” (Job 33:6, 7).
His perspective? If God allows people to suffer, it’s “to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword” (vv. 17, 18). By heeding the Lord’s warnings, individuals can avoid falling into a pit in the first place. “And they will go to others and say, ’I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved. God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.’ God does all these things to a person—twice, even three times—to turn them back from the pit, that the light of life may shine on them” (vv. 27-30).
At one level this is good advice. By paying attention to God’s Word you can avoid a lot of problems in the first place. But what if it’s too late and you’ve already fallen? What if you’re already down in the pit? Job didn’t need a theoretical explanation; he needed someone to toss him a rope!
The Way Out
I once heard a story about a man who fell into a pit.
A self-righteous person came by and said, “People who fall into a pit probably deserve it.”
A college professor noticed the man and commented, “We should do a study on pits.”
A reporter came on the scene and observed, “This would make a great human interest story! I’ll write an article about the man in the pit.”
A lawyer leaned over and urged, “You should sue the individual who dug that pit!”
An optimist told the man, “Cheer up, the pit could be deeper than it is.”
A pessimist warned him, “It’s probably going to rain, and you’ll get really muddy in there.”
An inspector came by and asked, “Did you get a permit to dig that pit?”
A religious person passed by and declared, “I’ll pray that your time in the pit will enhance your spiritual growth.”
An IRS agent remarked, “If you stay there long enough, you must pay taxes on your pit.”
But then Jesus came by and said, “Here, take my hand.” And Jesus lifted the man out of the pit.
“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” (Psalm 40:2).
1. What does it feel like when you’re in a pit of depression? How does it feel to be lifted out?
2. How does the Lord give you joy in the midst of difficult times?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
The Lookout.’s Bible Reading Plan for December 9, 2012
Amos 3, 4
Amos 5, 6