Hope In A Foxhole
Posted on December 3, 2019 by Catey Stover in Freedom Fighters
“Help, God—the bottom has fallen out of my life! Master, hear my cry for help! Listen hard! Open your ears! Listen to my cries for mercy.” Psalm 130:1-2 (The Message)
So here I sit, on Thanksgiving morning, with a strong cup of coffee, Eugene Peterson’s book, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” and a deep reflective moment that has taken me back to when life was really bad. Before a real job, marriage, bills to pay and kids, my world was “La Dystopie”, meaning that it was pretty wretched and dehumanizing. It was mornings like this, way back then, when I would eventually wake up, with my head reeling from my late night/early morning shenanigans, with a deep sense of regret and I would grumble, “God, if you’re really real, get me outta this mess.” But my heart was too disobedient to be still and listen for any response. Even though those times are well behind me, it hasn’t stopped life from “bottoming out” on me from time to time. Thank God for His Son and His Word.
As Peterson began his chapter, titled “Hope”, he threw out some questions, that grabbed me by the hand and took me back. “Are we to be, finally, nothing? Are we to be discarded? Are we to be rejected in the universe and thrown onto the garbage dump of humanity because our bodies degenerate or our emotions malfunction or our minds become confused or our families find fault with us or society avoids us?” That might be what my bottom looked like, BUT GOD!! So, as I continued with my reading, I would see that Peterson gives me an answer, “A Christian is a person who decides to face and live through suffering. If we do not make that decision, we are endangered on every side.” Sounds like a “don’t quit” statement to me, doesn’t it?
“If you, GOD, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance?” (Psalm 130:3) Well, the answer to that question is pretty easy to arrive at. I wouldn’t stand a whispers chance in a noisy crowd but “As it turns out, forgiveness is Your habit, and it that’s why You’re worshiped. I pray to GOD—my life a prayer—and wait for what he’ll say and do. (Psalm 130:4-5) There isn’t a need for me to despair the false narrative of our culture that says if I’m not “perpetually healthy and constantly happy” I don’t fit in, besides, who would wanna fit in with some of the wackiness going on anyway? Au contrarie…as Psalm 130:6 reinforces me, “My life’s on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning.”
I would have a lot of hope while I was in those figurative foxholes. Those times where the suffering of being a disobedient knucklehead was too much to handle. So, it gave me license to drink and drug hard in order to cope with the pain of being a nominative basket case. But I was putting my hope in a category that said, “Save me from me so that I will still be me without suffering the pain of being me.” Didn’t make much sense then and still doesn’t today. When it came time for it all to end, there was a loud BANG as I hit a true bottom. Everything was out in the open and there was no foxhole to find.
The one thing that makes Psalm 130 solid is the writer’s confidence in God. If he didn’t have it there may not have been a Psalm 130, who knows? However, the one thing to know is that our waiting and watching, or to put it another way, HOPING, has its basis in the conviction that GOD is actively involved with His creation. The apostle Paul would tell us plainly that “His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by that things are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that we are without excuse.” (Italic implied)
Peterson goes on to say, and I’ll agree, that hoping isn’t dreaming. It ain’t using an illusion to protect us from boredom or pain of suffering. It’s being confident that God does what He says He will do…that means He doesn’t have to do in a way that you’ll approve of. Remember this, when you’re at the bottom all you got left is looking up and if He says the heights are boundless then you have to surrender to the notion that they pretty much are. Your job is to wait and watch and see what the Lords gonna do. Psalm 130 doesn’t put up with the suffering you go through, but to look to WHO is gonna do something betterer than you deserve. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) has been married for 25+ years (Kathy), has a married son (Kevin) and a daughter in college (Karen). He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Think About This: “The ‘bottom’ has a bottom; the heights are boundless. Knowing that, we are helped to go ahead and learn the skills of waiting and watching—hoping!— by which God is given room to work out our salvation a develop our faith while we fix our attention on His ways of grace and resurrection.” — Eugene H. Peterson
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick