I waited patiently for God;
God inclined to me and heard my cry.
God drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
God put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and be in awe,
and put their trust in God.
—Psalm 40:1–3 (aiv)
The lotus is a unique Asian flower often found in opaque, smelly bogs and swamps. The lotus stem starts at the floor of the bog or swamp, then grows through the muck and stench. When it finally surfaces on the top of the water it blossoms into a beautiful flower.
The flower’s message: it’s possible to rise through filth and stagnant water full of bacteria, decomposition, and disease. It’s possible to rise through degenerate stink. Not only that, it’s even possible to rise through all that, then blossom.
To use the analogy of Psalm 40, it’s possible to get drawn up by the hand of God through the miry bog, then get set on a rock. It’s possible to find a firm place to stand and blossom so that “many will see and fear.”
The psalmist writes, “I waited patiently for the Lord.” Volumes are packed into those six words. Wisdom is patience, delayed gratification, willingness to wait. The human mind can come up with a quick fix on the spot, but only fools are enticed by the whip of a tongue. Responses that bring healing, insight, and quality have waited for the counter-intuitive twist provided on an early-morning jog. Wisdom waits. We wait because the best response hasn’t shown itself yet. We wait because we don’t have a satisfactory response yet. We wait on the Lord.
“God raised me up out of the pit.” Notice, it was not me, myself, and I. It was God who raised David out. In its own time the lotus rises. The timing is organic and can’t be forced. The truth-teller is in the pit of our stomach, in our jaw muscle, or in between our shoulder blades. The truth-teller is muscle tension.
Throughout our lives when our needs weren’t met, when we felt abandoned as children, when we weren’t in control, when we suffered abuse, when our childhood insecurities overwhelmed us, when dad started to drink again, or when we got lost on the hike—whatever the traumas happened to be—they were all faithfully recorded in the muscles of our bodies in the form of tension. For most people, these traumas are a garden variety. They are normal shocks to the nervous system that children experience growing up. Nonetheless, these shocks create tension, often profound tension, in the body.
The deep-seeded tensions in everyone’s bodies are the actual “pit” of Psalm 40. These tensions lead to dysfunction, addiction, and overcompensating behavior to make up for perceived deprivations. If we wait patiently in silent prayer, in time the Lord will incline and hear our cries and lift us up and out, usually little by little over decades. When faithfulness to the life of prayer dissipates the tensions, we’re raised up from the miry bog.
—Amos Smith, Be Still and Listen