“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Praise Lifted Up In A Sewage Pit
All day, He was up to his knees in feces yet He praised God. Several years ago, a dear friend of mine and conference speaker Barbara Hibschman shared a story which deeply impressed me. She spoke of a pastor who was a prisoner of war. As punishment, the guards give him the task of shoveling out the camp’s sewage ditch. The smell was horrible, the daily climate was hot and humid, the flow of sewage plenty and non-stop. Each morning when the sun arose, the Pastor knew a ditch full of sewage awaited him. Yet he awoke with excitement!
For this Pastor, days spent knee deep in feces was a blessing. What Satan meant for evil and, the attempt of the hard-hearted prison guards to demoralize this pastor, God turned around for good. As our Lord would have it, because no one wanted to pass near the sewage pit, this man had complete undisturbed quiet. The guards left him alone; all the drama of the camp did not touch his nerves; and he had total uninterrupted peace. Instead of dwelling on his misfortune, the sad stinking state of his existence and, the loneliness of the task, the Pastor turned his eyes upon Jesus. With determination he switched his focus; he chose to worship in the mist of the filth.
Sewage Pit Becomes A Cathedral
All day long, he cried out with uplifted voice to his Lord in praise. From morning to evening, he sang of his master’s majesty and glory. That septic pit became holy ground as the song says,
“This is holy ground; we’re standing on holy ground
For the Lord is present, and where He is, is holy. . .”
To some it may be sacrilegious to speak of God meeting a troubled soul in such a seemingly God-forsaken setting. That is exactly what happened; that horrible place became the Pastor’s Cathedral where he went to met with God. All day long, from morning to evening He was up to his knees in feces; yet he praised God!
For Example: Sewage Pit Situations
Eyebrow Burners, some of the situations many of us are facing impacts us on a level of shoveling sewage from an ever-flowing septic pit. For example, there are missionaries who have ministered and minister in areas where, in the midst of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth, they have had to bury a family member. At times, they have had to inter the first convert to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Or likeReverend Tyree Lee, Senior Pastor of Byways and Hedges Church in Brooklyn, New York, whose church an arsonist burnt to the ground (http://abc7ny.com/news/brooklyn-church-burned-to-ground/249206/). What about a believer whose non-believing co-workers who, on a daily basis, would plan and launch covert attacks to harass and discredit. Another is the lawyer Horatio Gates Stafford, who lost his son in 1871 and two years later lost his four daughters in a shipwreck? Yet, in the midst of their septic situations, they all found ways to praise God.
Of missionary Gary Witherall, whose wife was killed in Jordan by Muslim extremist, a columnist wrote “Some days, when Gary looks back and recalls that dark day in November, as she [his wife Bonnie] lay on the floor of that clinic, in tears and in despair, there are moments he just feels Jesus’ arms squeezing him tight, and the Holy Spirit saying peacefully, “God is alive! Jesus is alive! And he is searching out who he wants to touch.” And he remembers the words of a song of surrender that pours into his heart”(http://www.ambassadorspeakers.com/ACP/printSpeaker.aspx?speaker=224). Pastor Lee as he looked at his situation said “We will put up a tent and we will have church.” Sister F who was being attacked by her co-workers would arise every morning to worship and praise God. In the office, she would play worship music softly in her cubicle. Horatio Gates who, within span of two years, lost all of his five children, turned, his pain into praise. He penned the well know hymn “It is well with My Soul”.
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”
How To Praise In A Sewage Pit Situation
What is your septic situation? Look to the Pastor who is the main topic of this devotional. He turned his pain into praise; and changed the horrific pit into a holy place. One of the preachers, Sister Khaleila, at the church’s most recent night of prayer, outlined steps showing how believers can deal with septic situations.Here is a summarized adaptation of her message:-
- Release your faith; declare that God is able to meet the challenge:
- Get into prayer
- Fight with preservation to the bitter end
- Stay in an attitude of praise even though you may not feel like it.
Eyebrow Burners, Jesus said in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Hebrews 4:15 says “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin.” If nothing else can move you to praise, the fact that our Lord and Christ suffered just as we suffer and more should be a catalyst to launch our praise. Sister Khaleila ended her message with the powerful words “My praise puts God back into his rightful position of being head of my life. [Worship] cancels all plans of spiritual attacks used by this spirit of heaviness.” (Khaleila Davis: The Garment of Praise for the Spirit of Heaviness). Eyebrow burner we too can praise God all day from morning to evening, even if we are knee deep in sewage. Our focus must be upon Jesus not upon the situation and, even the pit can become a refreshing place!