Moving on: Living Beyond the Grave
By The Rev Dr. Lydia Mwanik
A Chinese pastor ones gave his testimony of having spent 18 years in prison for the sake of his faith. His task was to empty the human waste cesspool:
Because the pit was so deep, I could not reach the bottom to empty; I had to walk into the disease-ridden mass and scoop out successive layers of human waste, all the time breathing the strong stench…So, why did I enjoy working in the cesspool? I enjoyed the solitude…I could be alone and could pray to our Lord as loudly as I needed. I could recite the Scriptures, including the Psalms I still remembered, and no one was close enough to protest. Also, I could sing loudly the hymns I still remembered…again and again…I experienced the Lord’s presence. He never left me nor forsook me. And so I survived and the cesspool became my private garden (Sam Storms “Praise God in the Midst of your Darkness).
Both the Psalm reading and Luke 1 bring examples of two different people who still find it possible to praise God and serve him in their cesspool experiences. Psalm 42 is a prayer of someone in exile. Like the Chinese pastor, he is in the hands of the ungodly, who treat him in a cruel way. He longs to go back to Zion his homeland. However, in this cesspool he says, ‘I will put my hope in God, and once again I will praise him…”
In Luke 1, Zechariah and Elizabeth did not have children. This would be enough reason to doubt God’s love and faithfulness and lax in his service. But on the contrary, when angel Gabriel comes to break the Good News that they will bear a son, he finds Zechariah deeply involved in God’s service in the Temple (Lk 1:8). Then the angel says to him, “God has heard your prayer, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son…” (Lk 1:13).
Our praise and service to God is not conditioned by our circumstances, whether good or bad. We praise and serve God for who He is. Try praising God in your cesspool!
What is your cesspool experience like?
What will you do now to ensure that you continue praising and serving God despite your strong feeling that God has abandoned you?
The Rev. Dr. Lydai Mwanik is a lecturer at St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya