You Can Never Go Down the Drain
Mister Rogers occasionally sang a song that went "You can never go down, Can never go down, Can never go down the drain" as part of reassuring his young audience they need not fear the bathtub drain. I don't recall ever having that fear as a little one, and neither of my little ones have ever feared getting sucked down in the gentle tide of the draining tub, but I recall an episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" where Rogers sat on the edge of a bathtub and calmly explained that people were too big to go down the drain.
That's a good word. As I said, I don't know what it's like to feel afraid of the bathtub drain, but I can imagine what it's like to be a small child watching the spiral of water over a mysterious hole and worrying it might take him down too. It's an irrational fear, but an understandable one. It was wise of Mr. Rogers to tell children that, despite appearances, they can never go down the drain. It just can't happen.
Do you remember the story of Joseph and his brothers? You probably remember the part about the flashy coat and all that, but if you fast forward through all that -- after Joseph's jealous brothers throw him in a pit, then sell him into slavery, tell their father Jacob that wild animals ate Joseph, enter into a severe famine, become ignorant of all of Joseph's travails in Egypt, wind up in front of Joseph (unbeknownst to them) to beg for food, and have to go back to their father and tell him they're supposed to return to Egypt with their youngest brother Benjamin -- Jacob reflects on all that has befallen his family and says something like "Everything's against me!"
I don't know about you, but I've been there, done that, and threw away the T-shirt a few years ago. The weight of the world comes crashing down, and I just want to throw up my hands and say "I give up." Maybe you've been there too. There's a lot of people living a lot of lives in the world; the potential for pain and suffering and trials and tribulations is infinite. We've got financial problems, health problems, career problems, relationship problems, personal problems.
Maybe you feel like you can't catch a break. Maybe you're at the bottom of a pit so deep you can't even see the light at the opening. Maybe you've been there so long, you've lost all hope you'll ever get out. Maybe the tide has swept you up, you've been waving your arms for help to no avail, and you just know it's a matter of time before the downward spiral drowns you.
Don't lose hope. Don't give up.
You know Jacob, the old man who moaned "Everything's against me"? His son Jospeh, who he'd given up for dead, really did have everything against him. His own brothers try to kill him, then sell him to slave traders. He ends up in wasting away in a prison for years because of the lies of a seductress he refused to be seduced by. And after all that mess he was later able to stand before the very people who started the whole downward spiral and forgive them. He was able to say "You meant all this for evil, but God meant it for good."
Look, just 'cause you're paranoid, doesn't mean nobody's out to get you. There's some people who are in intense pain, both physical and emotional, right now, and it's pain that has gone on for years and years and will probably go on for years and years. I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer, but not everybody gets that super-magical TBN-powered spiritual pixie dust that makes you rich and healthy because you "trust in Jeeeeeezus." The strongest Christians are the ones who are hurting and have been hurting and keep trusting Jesus and will keep trusting Jesus even if their hurt never goes away. That doesn't sell books, I know, but it's the truth. God is omnipresent, right? So while he's perfectly capable of delivering you from your pain and suffering, he's also capable of redeeming you in and through your pain and suffering.
Know this: You cannot go down the drain.
You are in your Father's hand, and nobody -- not even yourself -- can take you out of there. There is nothing that can separate you from the love of God. Nothing. Zip, zilch, nada. No thing and no person can do it. All things work to the good of those who are called according to His purposes. Who's called according to His purposes? If you are a believer in Jesus, you are. So what things work to the good? All things. As our own Lionel Cartright sings, "Not just some things." All things.
This world may be in the proverbial handbasket. It may be circling the drain. Our bodies are indeed winding down. (And more than a few of us have bodies widening downward. ;-) But our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Our redeemer lives. And one day, he will descend with a shout, and this old earth will get an extreme makeover in an eternal splash of glory the likes of which will make the aurora borealis look like a Lite Brite. And our sagging flesh and aching bones and slowing hearts and diseased cells will be taken from us, and we'll get fresh legs, a freshly purified heart, fresh lungs to breathe the fresh air of the new heaven and the new earth. We'll get fresh eyes to finally see Him face to face.
Child of God, you have been rescued once. And it was a promise of glory to come. So someday you will be rescued again in such a way you may laugh at all the things that make you cry today. Your anguish over this world and your hurt from your experience in it will become joy over the new world and the worshipful pleasure it brings.
The great thing is that we can taste that joy now, in the midst of our sins and sufferings. We have a mighty God who is strong to save, and He loves us so such. If the birds and the flowers are under his care, how much more do you think he cares about you and me? Most of us know Jesus cried out from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?". But many of us don't know Jesus was quoting Psalm 22. Go read it.
Do you see that it's not a psalm about God forsaking anyone? It's actually about God delivering his people. Kinda puts Christ's lament in a more reassuring context, doesn't it? Here's verse 24:
For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
Wherever you are, whatever you're going through and may go through (perhaps for the rest of your life), know that your salvation lay not in your circumstances or situations, but believe that God is strong to save, and that even his Son suffered torture and death to achieve it for you. You do not hurt alone. Your road may be hard, but despite where it appears to be leading, it is the road to glory. God's will for you will not be disappointment or destruction. The "everything against you" is working toward your good. You will stand renewed, redeemed, and ready to prevail at the last day.
Whatever it looks like, whatever it feels like, you can never go down the drain.