Years ago a friend asked me to describe my relationship with God and I quickly responded that I felt like I was in a Pit all alone. God wasn’t there. Luckily my friend did not run out of the room and down the street screaming. My friend did not really say much because there was not much to say. When you are in the Pit, you just want someone to sit beside you and not try to “fix it.” The Pit feels heavy, lonely and scary.
One gift the Pit offers is time. Lots of time. Time to be. Time to think. Time to rest. It also offers space to talk with God. Jonah offers us an example of praying to God from a Pit…the belly of a whale. In Jonah’s prayer he says, “I called out to the Lord in my distress, and he answered me. From the belly of the underworld I cried out for help; you have heard my voice.” Somewhere in the midst of prayer, loneliness and fear something starts to happen. The Pit begins to offer clarity, purpose and hope. Jonah was vomited (gross) out of his Pit on to the shore. Clarity, purpose and hope. Samuel Shoemaker, a great Episcopalian priest, once said, “Prayer may not change things for you, but it for sure changes you for things.”
Someone around you is probably experiencing life in the Pit this week (or month…or year). It may be someone you live with in your tent or it may be you. Someone you know is in the Pit. Here is what you do for the Pit dwellers …. give them space, keep them fed and practice patience. Sometimes life is just hard and God seems far far away (even though God is right there all the time). When life is hard, we need people around us that will not run out of the room and down the street. We need friends who will just sit beside us until the experience passes.
When it passes, Pit dwellers become new creations. Just like butterflies struggle to come out of their cocoons, we struggle to come out of the Pits of life. The results are well worth the journey.