I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.”
A group of somewhat delusional people had gathered to perform an ancient and gruesome ritual known only as a “5K race.” And somehow, I was right there among them, trying not to laugh at their ridiculous attempts to be as light as possible (sir, those shorts though). My sister had asked for one thing for her birthday—my own sweat and tears. In other words, she had brainwashed my entire family into running a 5K with her. I rolled my eyes as I approached the starting line.
“Go!” Like many of my worst moments, the race started off great. Wide open road, paved and smooth. But then, the trail veered away from the road of ease into Sasquatch’s lair—otherwise known as the “Nature Park.” A frolic through the forest sounded fun—but not when we had just had Noah’s Flood that afternoon. The race quickly turned into another level of Temple Run as the trail filled with mud, roots, and fat people trying desperately to relive their glory days. To make matters worse, at low spots we had to use narrow planks to cross the Slough of Despond. I found myself creating a new Olympic skating event as I slid on the mud, being passed by a guy on a jet ski.
By the time I reached the finished line, I had barely squeaked out a win over the old man with the cane. The only thing that kept me going was this thought: At the end of the race, I get free ice cream! I had lost some sweat, some calories, and some sanity on this race, and what had I gained? A bath of mud, a T-shirt, some ice cream, and a whole lot of exhaustion. It was a week before I could breathe normally again (I’m short of breath just thinking about it. Now where did I put those donuts?).
I think my feelings sum up our verses from Psalm 116. The Psalmist was “brought low”—literally, utterly spent and exhausted. Life’s like that race. It’s difficult enough, but then come the storms that make everything twice as hard. But through it all, through dense woods and oozing swampland, a cry echoes through the trees: “God’s dealt bountifully with you.” This Psalmist must be as delusional as those 5K racers! How can he say that? Cuz verse eight.
God’s done three things. First, He delivered his soul from death. He’s dragged him out of the muddy waters and given him a way to cross the impenetrable swamp. “You can do it!” Second, He’s kept his eyes from tears. When the Psalmist felt like giving up, God was there with a towel and a water bottle. “Keep running!” And when his feet began to slip in the mud, when he was heading for that edge, God reached down and caught him. “I got you.”
As hard as it is to see, He’s got you right now. Feel His breath on your neck as He runs beside you. Through mud and swamp. He’s preserving you—literally, keeping watch over you and guarding your soul from danger. A tear can’t fall without Him watching. You can’t slip without Him catching.
Welcome to Life’s Mud Run. Here’s your running partner: Jesus Christ.
-Matthew W., SC