Lessons from the Abyss

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It’s not that Christians don’t have troubles. It’s just that troubles don’t trouble Christians. Not because troubles aren’t present, but because troubles cannot defeat God’s children.

Human beings – all people, white, brown, black, red, yellow, democrat, republican, gay, straight, Christian, non-Christian…all people – have trouble from time to time.

Back in seminary, Dr John Leith, used to say something like, “Until you’ve seen yourself and God from the bottom of the abyss, your faith will always remain shallow.”

I was in my early 20’s. Heck most of my classmates were in our early 20’s. None of us had a clue as to what the abyss was. But the way he said the “abysssssss” made it sound like I never wanted to be there even if it meant a deeper faith!

Fast forward three decades or so. I now know better what he was talking about. What I’ve discovered about the abyss – a place where there is no light, no hope, just darkness, a never-stopping pain, a suffocating shame, a place where one actually welcomes death to end the suffering – is that even there, you are not alone. God is there. God is present to lift you up out of the abyss, out of the darkness. God is there. There is never a there where God is not present.

“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday” (Psalm 91:5-6).

It’s not that you will never have nights of sheer terror. It’s just that the night tormentors can no longer defeat you. This doesn’t mean terror doesn’t feel like terror, or that crappy situations don’t feel like crap. It just means nothing – not terror, not crappy situations, not death, nothing in the created universe – can ever defeat us. Because God is there.

There is never a there where God is not there.

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