You've seen the commercial for Life Alert. It's a simple device worn around the neck that enables a person to summon help in case of an emergency, with a simple push of a button. Their commercial features a woman lying on the floor crying out, "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!" When I was younger, I used to laugh when I saw it. I may have even mocked her as I repeated, "I'VE FALLEN AND I CAN'T GET UP!" (in my most dramatic voice, of course!) Ok -- Admit it! -- You've done it too! Who hasn't?? With each passing year, I laugh a little less about it because I realize it won't be too long before I might really need one!
But as I watched that commercial again recently, that phrase struck a different chord within me. When I took a closer look at that woman lying on the floor, I realized I've been that woman. There have been times in my life when spiritually or emotionally I had crashed to the floor and could have (and should have) voiced the same thing that this woman was uttering. I had fallen -- and I simply couldn't get up!! Have you ever been there?
When I think back to those times that I was figuratively sprawled out on the floor, it would have been nice to have a fancy button hanging around my neck that I could have pressed to summon help. The sad thing is, that even if I did, I would have been too proud to push it. Deep in my heart I knew for sure I had fallen and I couldn't get up on my own, but I didn't want anyone else to know it. Me, admit I needed help? How would that look? That wasn't happening!! So instead, I struggled on my own, trying to pull myself up and back together, all the while hoping no one saw me doing it in the process. When asked how I was, I responded "fine" and plastered a smile on my face, when in reality, I was a mess and didn't know how I would make it through another day.
For me, falling emotionally is even worse that falling physically. It's so much easier for me to share my physical needs than my spiritual or emotional needs. They seem so much more "personal" -- especially when you're a pastor's wife and are expected by some to have it all together! I am thankful for my Life Group at church who allow me to be myself -- blemishes and all. But there are still some things that are too personal to even share with them.
So what should we do when we find ourselves helplessly lying on the floor? Do we have a "Life Alert" device for these spiritual and emotional situations? Though we don't have an actual button to push, we do have immediate access to someone that hears our cry for help. Unlike the person at the call center, He doesn't have to assess the situation and then determine who to send to meet your need. He KNOWS your situation even before you call, and He comes Himself to your aid.
Psalm 40:1-2 comes to mind.
"I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along." (NLT)
Our first and best course of action is to call out to the Lord for His help. Oh how I wish His help fixed everything immediately!! Sometimes God's work of healing and restoration takes time. Verse 1 states "I waited patiently for the LORD to help me." We have to wait patiently for Him. We call out for help, knowing and trusting that He will be there to answer. He hears us immediately, and then goes to work by acting on our behalf, but His complete work sometimes takes time. Take a look what He does for us. Verse 2 says "He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire." It's the mire that often gets me. When I looked up it's Webster's definition it said mire was "spongy earth (as of a bog or marsh); heavy often deep mud or slush; a troublesome or intractable situation." Mud and mire are slippery substances that you can get stuck in. After struggling on my own for some time before I even cry out to God, it's not hard to visualize me frustrated and covered in mud even as I continue to struggle against God's help. The more I resist His help, the deeper I sink, and the more difficult it is for me to get out of that pit! I am thankful that His love is deep and His arm is strong.
When I finally give up and relinquish control, then God can pull me out of the pit. When He does, there I am, exhausted and covered in mud, but I'm thankful He doesn't just leave me there to fend for myself. I imagine Him carefully washing off that dirt, drying my tears, changing my clothes, and then as verse two goes on to say, He sets "my feet on solid ground" and steadies me as I walk along. After spending time in a pit of despair, without a good foothold, He sets my feet on solid ground, and then walks beside me to catch me if I start to stumble. He stays with me until my legs regain their strength. That's a good God!
How long does that take? I think it depends how deep the pit was and how long you were in there! We need God to get us out of the pit and steady us as we learn to walk again, but sometimes it's beneficial to also talk about your struggles with a trusted friend or counselor and have them to join you on your journey to wholeness again. But know your HOPE is in the LORD.
Psalm 40:3 goes on to say:
"He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the LORD."
Sometimes it takes a little while to learn that new song. I'm still trying to learn verses 2 and 3 in a certain situation, but I have hope that I will sing them soon. So if you have fallen and can't get up, call out to God for His help. Put your trust in the LORD and begin to walk on solid ground again. Then sing!! Many will see what He has done and will put their trust in the LORD!