Down and Out

Have you ever felt completely down and out? Were you in a place where nothing you did went right, everyone had turned against you, and everywhere you turned, someone was after you, trying to do you harm? Life can sometimes catch up to us and grab us by the ankles so hard we can’t move or breathe.

Several years ago, I found myself in such a place. A person who was struggling with mental illness turned her focus on me in ways that were disturbing and threatening. Then I came out of my office one day to find my tire had been slashed, preventing me from leaving on a trip until it got fixed. A month later, my mother suddenly passed away. With no sibling available, I was left to settle her estate and take care of all of her arrangements while trying to process my deep grief. It seemed that everywhere I turned for a few months, it was nothing but doom and gloom.

King David found himself in such a state many times in his life. His down-and-out moments often came as a result of his own actions, but he also was threatened by a mentally ill king who tried to take David’s life. David learned through all of that, as I did, that there is only one place to go: God is our rescuer in troubling times, regardless of the cause of our stress:

Psalm 41 (Common English Bible)

Those who pay close attention to the poor are truly happy!
    The Lord rescues them during troubling times.
The Lord protects them and keeps them alive;
    they are widely regarded throughout the land as happy people.
    You won’t hand them over to the will of their enemies.
The Lord will strengthen them when they are lying in bed, sick.
    You will completely transform the place where they lie ill.

But me? I said, “Lord, have mercy on me!
    Heal me because I have sinned against you.”
My enemies speak maliciously about me:
    “When will he die and his name disappear?”
Whenever they come to visit, they say nothing of value.
    Their hearts collect evil gossip;
    once they leave, they tell it to everybody.
All of those who hate me talk about me, whispering to each other,
    plotting evil against me:
“Some horrible thing has been poured into him;
    the next time he lies down, he won’t get up.”

One of life’s greatest stressors is the betrayal of someone you love. Few things cut as deep as a spouse, sibling, or friend turning against you. This happened to David, too.

Even my good friend,
    the one I trusted,
    who shared my food,
    has kicked me with his heel—a betrayer!
10 But you, Lord, please have mercy on me and lift me up
    so I can pay them back!

David’s plea for revenge for revenge’s sake will go unheeded by God. God reminds us that vengeance is his. But we can certainly tap into David’s emotions here. Who among us hasn’t wished to see our enemy get what’s coming to them?

11 Then I’ll know you are pleased with me
    because my enemy won’t be shouting in triumph over me.
12 You support me in my integrity;
    you put me in your presence forever.

Are you feeling down and out today? Take heart. God is with you even in the worst of your situation. You are never alone.

13 Bless the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from forever to forever!
        Amen and Amen!

Light in the Darkness by Karen Warlitner