In early August, we were in a whirlwind of deciding to return to the US for medical help, making short-notice plans to leave and facing the uncertainty of health and future. In the midst of that whirlwind, Psalm 40 became especially meaningful to me, and it seemed to jump out at me as a fitting description of my hopes and feelings for this time of medical leave. I’ll just share a few of the verses that stand out.
“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.” (v1)
Bob had been sick several times in the span of a few months, and we were getting really frustrated, wondering “why??”. In addition, my (Kristi) bouts with depression and hopelessness continued (a side-effect of our malaria medicine). We had cried out to God for each of these things, and in the decision to come back for medical testing, we felt that was part of God’s answer.
“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.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.” (v2-3a)
Sometimes, we can’t see the forest for the trees. We were frustrated by each new bout of sickness Bob faced, but saw them as isolated incidences. We needed others to help give us the ‘forest’ perspective –perhaps all these sicknesses are related, and are not what they appear in isolation. We felt like God was taking us out of the ‘mud’ and the ‘pit’ of our frustration and hopelessness, and giving us renewed perspective. With our trust in God, we have a firm place to stand. We pray that we will return to Congo with a "new song in our mouths”, really rejuvenated in body, mind, and spirit!
“I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth
from the great assembly.” (v10)
In response to the miracle of God’s salvation and faithfulness to us, we don’t want to sit silent. I love the “full-circle” way that David describes what God has done and his response – to share it, and perhaps help others be “lifted out of the mud”.
“Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer,
O my God, do not delay.” (v17)
There is not much we can do on our own. This has become more real to us after a year in Congo. In the face of unknown sickness, or the overwhelming challenges the church faces in Congo, we see our “neediness” and “smallness” in living color. We cry out to our Deliverer, grateful that he is able to surmount the obstacles we can’t.