I would have pulled you out…

I would have pulled you out…

One of my worst nightmares (seriously) growing up was being caught in quicksand. It was not something I should have been too concerned about because I have lived my entire life in Northern Michigan on pretty high ground where I hardly ever read in the local newspaper about some hunter or mushroom picker being swallowed by quicksand.

We didn’t have television when I was young, but every so often we would visit a favorite uncle who did have a black and white set. Am I dating myself yet? And there was one program that ended up with a prison escapee trying to elude the police and he falls into quicksand. The show ends with his hat laying on top of the quicksand and he has been swallowed up. And to make sure that I didn’t forget the image, I saw the same show in reruns—twice. It was the cause of many nightmares.

Had I been that man, I would have wanted someone, anyone, even someone who would have said, “I told you not to go in there” to pull me out. So, the words, “I would have pulled you out, but…” would not have been what I wanted to hear. That “but” and the explanation that followed would seem pretty lame as the quicksand was nearing my chin.

Someone included these words by Kimberly Henderson on a Facebook post, and I include them here because they are so well said:

“I would have pulled Joseph out. Out of that pit. Out of that prison. Out of that pain. I would have cheated nations out of the one God would use to deliver them from famine.

I would have pulled David out. Out of Saul’s spear-throwing presence. Out of the caves he hid away in. Out of the pain of rejection. I would have cheated Israel out of a God-hearted king.

I would have pulled Esther out. Out of being snatched from her only family. Out of being placed in a position she never asked for. Out of the path of a vicious, power-hungry foe. I would have cheated a people out of the woman God would use to save their very lives.

I would have pulled Jesus off. Off of the cross. Off of the road that led to suffering and pain. Off of the path that would mean nakedness and beatings, nails, and thorns. I would have cheated the entire world out of a Savior. Out of salvation. Out of an eternity filled with no more suffering and no more pain.

And oh friend. I want to pull you out. I want to change your path. I want to stop your pain. But right now I know I would be wrong. I would be out of line. I would be cheating you and cheating the world out of so much good. Because God knows. He knows the good this pain will produce. He knows the beauty this hardship will grow. He’s watching over you and keeping you even in the midst of this. He’s promising you that you can trust Him. Even when it all feels like more than you can bear.

So instead of trying to pull you out, I’m lifting you up. I’m kneeling before the Father and I’m asking Him to give you strength. To give you hope. I’m asking Him to protect you and to move you when the time is right. I’m asking Him to help you stay prayerful and discerning. I’m asking Him how I can best love you, and be a help to you. I’m believing He’s going to use your life in powerful and beautiful ways. Ways that will leave your heart grateful and humbly thankful for this road you’ve been on.”

Kimberly Henderson Proverbs 31 Ministries

We all want to be pulled out of the quicksand of spiritual trials, but Joseph, and David, and Esther, would have been cheated out of such spiritual growth and ministry to God’s people if we had done so. And pulling Jesus down from the cross would have cheated the world out of the only Savior. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who knew something about trials, said “there is a cross to bear before there is a crown to wear.”

My wife and I experienced a number of “black years” that radically changed us both—in some good ways, and in some not so good ways. A friend, a Christian counselor, who specialized in helping people who were struggling with a myriad of issues said, “I wish I had known; I would have helped you.” I told him that God did not want him to help me. I needed to experience the depths of that time, to “break me, mold me, fill me, use me” as the chorus says. I had sung that chorus hundreds of times and now God wanted to know if I meant it.

What if someone had thrown me a lifeline and I could have grabbed it? Would God’s plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11) been thwarted? Would I have grown? Would I have written?

This is not an excuse to ignore someone’s pain. But it is a challenge to pray first for guidance, to let the Lord help us to know whether to lift them out—or not. And if we are not to go to them, we should lift them up in prayer.

Psalms 119:71 KJV It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 KJV And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

If you have been in a spiritual wilderness for more years than you wish to count, I am saying, through a heart that aches for your healing, that God is just as faithful to His children today as He was to the Psalmist or to the Apostle Paul.  He has a purpose in your trial.  Look to Him and in His Word for the answer.