A Song of Lament
By Annie Fox
Have you ever found yourself in Pity City? You know the place—it’s where you find yourself when it seems like everyone else is happier and more fulfilled than you. And worse yet, many of those happy, fulfilled people don’t really seem to deserve to be so happy and fulfilled. After all, you’re the one who’s been faithful. You’re the one praying the right prayers. And you’re the one who deserves for God to open the floodgates of heaven to pour out all his blessings! YET, they seem to prosper while you struggle. It’s hard. And it’s okay to drive through Pity City from time to time, but don’t ever park there.
The writer of Psalm 73 understood these feelings when he wrote, “Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seemed to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.” (Psalm 73: 1-5). And it goes on like that for another seven verses! Sound familiar? If not, you’re holier than I am. I’ve looked at people who have it all together and wondered why they’ve got it so good. It’s easy to let your mind drift to that place, but then comes Pity City…
“Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain. If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is!” (Psalm 73: 13-16). And there it is—that moment when you start feeling sorry for yourself. Maybe you’re struggling with your finances, or maybe you’re having family problems, or maybe it’s something entirely different.
For me, I started my drive through Pity City the day when my husband and I first walked into a fertility clinic. We wanted to have a baby so desperately, but it wasn’t happening. And yet everyone else seemed to have no problems getting pregnant! Why them and not me? And then after about nine months at the fertility clinic (and still no positive pregnancy test), we decided we wanted to take a different route—adoption. After committing ourselves to adoption, we were able to discover our infertility issue, but we were already knee-deep in South Korean adoption paperwork and were ready to let that process play out. After about nine MORE months, we were matched with a beautiful little boy we named Liam. We received medical reports, pictures, updates, and background info on this precious little boy. And for about a year-and-a-half, we loved him as our son—from afar. His pictures were on our refrigerator and walls, we bragged about his milestones as he began to walk and talk, and we cherished the little bit of info we were given on a monthly basis. And right when we were expecting to get a call any day to jump on a plane to go get him, we got a different call. The paperwork was incomplete, by no fault of our own, and the judge on the case rejected our adoption. “Liam” had just turned two and we were told that the agency was to find him another home. Just like that. We were devastated. It would have been easy to park in Pity City for a while.
But then came God’s peace. You know, I never fully understood the meaning of “peace that passes all understanding” until this experience in my life. I remember feeling devastated, but not defeated. I was sad, but not without hope. I experienced God’s greatest gifts during the time in my life that should have worn me down to nothing. The writer of Psalms 73 seemed to understand this when he wrote, “Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalms 73: 21-26).
My husband and I now have two precious little girls, but I always tell people that my girls are not my happy ending (as shocking a statement as that may seem). My miracle didn’t happen when I had a positive pregnancy test. No—my miracle occurred when I found myself driving out of Pity City, basking in the peace of our Lord, DESPITE my circumstances.
Read: Psalms 73
Reflect: Am I driving through Pity City or am I parking there? Am I searching just for my miracle or am I searching for God’s peace and understanding while I wait on my miracle?
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for being with me through the good times and the bad. Even during the most difficult moments in life, you’re with me, providing me with the strength I need. You’re the God who grants me peace that goes beyond my understanding and I thank you for that amazing gift. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.