In the Pits?

9 Jun

You’ll love this explanation by young “George Washington.”

“George Washington, did YOU chop down the cherry tree?”

“No, Dad.”

“I think you are lying.”

“No, no, no! I swear I did NOT chop down the cherry tree.”

“Son, I saw you out here with your ax. Your punishment will be much worse for you if you lie. Now, tell me the truth!”

“Dad, I answered your question truthfully. Still, I must take complete responsibility for all my actions. While my answer was legally accurate, I did not volunteer information. Indeed, Dad, I did cause the cherry tree to be lying on the ground. To do this was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible. I know my answer to you gave a false impression. I misled you, my own father. I deeply regret that.

“I can only tell you I was motivated by many factors. First, by a desire to protect myself from the embarrassment of my own conduct. I was also very concerned about protecting Mom from this shock. What I did, Dad, was use a saw to cause the cherry tree to fall. Only after the tree was already down did I go get my ax to chop off individual branches. So, I chopped off branches, but sawed down the tree. Look at the saw cut on the stump and the ax cuts on the branches.

“Therefore, legally, I told the truth. I ask you to turn away from the spectacle of this fallen tree and to return our attention to a solid family relationship. Thank you.” *

George Washington was a lawyer, so this imaginary conversation makes perfect sense!

I (Dawn) climbed an old cherry tree as a little girl so my Grandma Parks could make scrumptious pies. I remember the long hours pitting those cherries, though. Pits. Ugh. Not fun! Now I have a wonderful “pit-er” that makes the job more tolerable.

Humorist Erma Bombeck often wrote about life “in the pits.” In fact, she made her career on jokes like those you’ll find in her book, If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?  Bombeck wrote, “I worry about getting into the Guinness World Book of Records under ‘Pregnancy: Oldest Recorded Birth.’ I worry about what the dog thinks when he sees me coming out of the shower, [or] that one of my children will marry an Eskimo who will set me adrift when I can no longer feed myself.” **

Bombeck’s book title aside, “in the pits” has nothing to do with cherries. Some say that the origin of “in the pits” is the deep holes or chambers where prisoners were confined ~ perhaps even an underground dungeon. The Oxford English Dictionary even suggested that “in the pits” came from the concept of “the pit of hell.”

What does it mean to live “in the pits” in American culture? When my husband thinks of “in the pits,” he thinks of speed car racing. The “pits” is defined as “any place of pain and turmoil” by one source.  Another says it’s a place where we become upset and despondent. We become anxious or at the end of our rope. Still another says it’s a place where we find ourselves needing comfort or encouragement. 

Oh, yes. I identify with that one. When I’m in the pits, I sure need an encouraging word.

Actually, when I think of the phrase “in the pits,” I can’t help but remember poor Joseph in the Old Testament. His story is in Genesis 37-45. Talk about a life in the pits!

Joseph in the PitThrown into a pit by his jealous brothers, and then sold into slavery  and later falsely accused and thrown into prison in Egypt (another pit?), Joseph had to wonder whether God had forsaken him. But Joseph did not forsake God. He was faithful… a man of integrity and wisdom.

We don’t know whether Joseph became despondent ~ “in the pits” ~ while in the pit and in prison. Likely, he got pretty depressed at times, because he was human. But I like to think that this young man remembered that dream he had as a young boy and believed that God had a special plan for his life. He had a divine purpose.

Joseph had learned how to trust God as a boy, and in those difficult times in Egypt, he looked heavenward with hope. And God responded. Joseph was blessed in Potiphar’s house and in prison, and ultimately, by Pharaoh himself. Joseph’s testimony was that God sent him to Egypt to save people from starving (Genesis 50:20-21). He acknowledged that ultimately, God was in control.

So let’s summarize. What are the lessons from Joseph?

When YOU are in the pits…

  • Remember that you were created with a divine purpose, and God has a plan for your life (Ephesians  5:17; Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Look up from your pit toward heaven. Pray and seek God. He is your Hope! (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
  • Consider how God is prospering you, even in your difficulties. You may not have money, but you may be rich in wisdom or faith. He loves you and rejoices over you (Zephaniah 3:17).
  • Commit to personal integrity, regardless of your circumstances. Be more concerned about pleasing God than with what people think (Proverbs 15:33; 21:21, 23)
  • Live in dependence on God, every moment, knowing that He is in control. Don’t act in the flesh; live in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).

Your “pit” experience can end up being a blessing as God refines you and shows Himself strong on your behalf.


** Erma Bombeck, If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? (Study Guide, p. 3)


2 Responses to “In the Pits?”

  1. Gracie June 9, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Wow Dawn! Just what I needed today! Thank you!~b

  2. writerkate7 June 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    AWESOME!! I love the picture of being “in the pits” as needing comfort or encouragement–You hit it right on for me:-) You encouraged me today, thus my “Pit” is smaller:-) I am also encouraged by what you wrote about Joseph (hands down my favorite Biblical man) “Joseph did not forsake God. He was faithful… a man of integrity and wisdom…I like to think that this young man remembered that dream he had as a young boy and believed that God had a special plan for his life.” I am going to carry that with me today. Thank yo for bringing yet another incredible aspect to Joseph.

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