In the Lowlands


Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.

I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.

I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.

—Psalm 69:1-3

Wisdom bought through suffering only comes in hindsight. When the hand of God reaches down into the mire and plucks us up, we vow that we will remember what we just went through as if we are living it always. The time of testing came and went, but it cannot be forgotten—at least that is what we promise as we move on to better times.

Then there are occasions when our breath cannot return before the next test comes. We think we will not revisit the recent past, but then our feet are swept out from beneath us and the all-too-familiar stench of the lowlands rises up to embrace us. It’s the quicksand of a fallen world perpetually dragging us down.

Some people seem to cruise through life with the kind of problems that are resolved in the timeliness and manner usually reserved for half hour TV sitcoms. Others find life to be relentless in its harsh messages, seemingly random disasters, and outright sadistic tricks. And the eyes grow dim waiting for God.

We are a people rooted in happy endings. Christians know that happy endings come to those in Jesus who complete the race, but the race itself can be cruel; it kills everyone who runs it. Our willingness to keep running despite the mire is what separates us from the despairing. Our knowledge of the finish line—and who waits for us there—is what gives us hope.

As for me, I lack the wisdom that comes from hindsight. I don’t know why some guys have all the luck, why some enjoy a stunning amount of great breaks. Still, I know bitter people who actually spend their lives waiting for the lucky guy’s winning streak to come to an end, hoping to get a good seat to watch the mire win. I think I am not like that, but I understand how easy it is to become cynical, desiring only the worst for others so our own mire does not seem so deep.

I do not understand why life is so difficult some, many of whom absorb one hit after another for no comprehensible reason. The infertile couple who waits for years for a child, adopts one, only to bury their dream a few years later when a senseless accident takes that child away from them. Or the couple wanting to marry, only to have him sent off to war, be severely wounded, recover, then get shipped back to the States to his fiancee, whereupon she suffers an asthma attack and dies. Those tales may be generic or they may be the tales of the people in your own neighborhood, church, or workplace. Someone we know has endured something like them.

I do not have the wisdom to answer the question of why. Nor do I understand how the wicked can flourish while the righteous live in poverty. All I know is that many people have eyes that are growing dim waiting for God. For them I pray this:
Lord Jesus, you are our only hope in this world. Without you, we are less than nothing, mere dust that is blown away on the breeze. Your compassionate love is infinite in its tenderness, boundless in its strength, and capable of redeeming any person or situation. Into the lives of those trapped in the mire, Lord, we ask that your loving mercy and your strong hand reach out to them, lifting them out of their circumstance and into your redemptive embrace. Mercy, mercy, Jesus, we cry for mercy! May we all know your mercy in due time, at the right time, in the saving time—for your glory alone. Be our Rock and our Salvation, for the days are evil. Maranatha, Lord Jesus. Amen.

One thought on “In the Lowlands

  1. Dan, a poweful, moving post. And an equally powerful prayer you’ve chosen to share with us. I sense this is coming from a personal challenge and you are always in my nightly prayers. I hope you don’t mind if I quote — with acknowledgement, of course. Your friend in Christ’s peace,

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