“(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 11:38, emphasis mine)
I can’t pretend to understand the suffering you’re experiencing. Assuming you are. Suffering, that is.
It’s interesting how it’s called a “mine”. If you’re willing to plumb the depths and spelunk just a little farther, whatever you find is as good as yours. Just remember: a stalactite forms on the ceiling, while a stalagmite rises up from the floor. Know this, too: Jesus went all the way down—for us. And He’s the one who is leading us down the particular path we tread. The world topside was not worthy, but we’re not dead yet. So we keep going.
It’s dark, quiet. I remember a scene from Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth where one of the party somehow gets separated from the rest and after a fall, wakes up in pitch black. He calls out and gets quite the delayed response. One member of the group is able to deduce that they are a quarter-mile from the stranded man. Timing the conversation through the rock. It’s one of the coolest scenes from what classic literature I’ve read.
Shades of black
Point is for us, there’s no depth to which you explore—or sink—that Jesus is not right there with you. And when you make it back to the surface, or unite with your party, you will be well qualified to take anyone by the hand, should the need arise, and walk with them—as Jesus did you—to whatever depth necessary in order to find what God has for them.
“And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.” (Jeremiah 45:5) This is God speaking through Jeremiah, to his servant Baruch. Suffering truly is optional. Here’s another aspect to this. On our way down, we have access to all the treasure we could want. And God will let us stay and linger. But with Baruch, it would seem that there were larger things at stake than the “great things” he sought for himself—who knows what those things were. We can choose not to suffer, but the choice is always a secondary one. It has been my experience in seeking after God and endeavoring to follow Jesus to the best of my ability, that life’s sufferings are the other side of the joys that God gives. Paul knew. The “higher highs” had their attendant lows. And if we don’t desire Jesus beyond a certain depth, we probably won’t go any further in fellowship with Him. Paul sums it up in his letter to the Philippians:
“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death. If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11) If we would know Jesus and His resurrection power, we need to be willing to share in His sufferings—to a depth of His choosing. This is the (super)natural order of things. And with Jesus by your side, your hand in His, the journey is an adventure. His peace will light your way.
“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1:29)
How low can you go?