My life is down in the dust; give me life through Your word. 119.25
When it comes to hard truths about life you won’t find any rose-tinting from the Bible. There is no ‘spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down.’ Right from the start God tells us that due to sin “you will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust” (Genesis 3.19).
God does not forget what we are: “For the Lord knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass - he blooms like a flower in the field; when the wind passes over it, it vanishes, and its place is no longer known” (Psalm 103.14-16). When our lives come to the appointed time for death we learn from Scripture that God Himself “turns people back to dust, saying, ‘return to dust, you mortals!” (Psalm 90.3 NLT)
Dust and ash in the Bible is the place of repentance, sorrow, grief, misery, and pain. People who had lost everything would cover themselves in dust and ashes - in the stuff which represented death and the end of all things. Maybe there have been times in your life where you have not only been ‘down in the dumps’ but ‘down in the dust.’ Times when everything seems to have been taken from you - even your integrity and pride. Of late I have certainly been experiencing days like this so I can truly empathise with you (which I suspect is why the Lord has led me to this desert in the first place).
The Book of Psalms is full of songs from David and others who were despairing of their life and their very existence. Some psalms are so dark and brooding they deserve an R rating for ‘likely to cause depression or severe mood swings.’ These psalms have been given to us by God because such darkness and gut-wrenching despair is a valid human emotion, it is part of human experience - so much a part of it that Jesus had to go through it too if He were to ever truly redeem us. Jesus became so distraught that he knelt down and cried out to God to take His pain away; Jesus’ cry was so all-consuming that He sweated drops of blood (a genuine medical condition called hematidrosis which is caused by extreme stress).
When we reach the place of dust and it seems that our life is worthless we must look to God’s word for the map to the life we need. When we open Scripture at such times the Lord points us to how Jesus suffered for us that we might be set free. When we open the Scriptures at such times we see how through the ages great saints have entered just such times of darkness and yet God never abandoned them but rather lifted them up from the dust. When we open the Scriptures we come face to face with a life which is not our own, a life given to us freely and which cannot be destroyed by the cares and worries of the world - a life which gives us such great worth and value in the eyes of God that He would literally die for us. Let us always pray when we open our Bibles “Lord show me the life Jesus offers me and the truths that set me free.” The Christian faith brings all of us to the dust of death - death to sin, death to our selfishness, death to our pride, death to our flesh - but by the same token only the Christian faith then promises resurrection and life in all its fullness!