Getting Right Down To It (Higher Highs/Lower Lows Part 2)

“He made darkness His secret place…” (Psalm 18:11)

I can’t pretend to understand the suffering you’re experiencing. And if do it right, I don’t have to. Pretend, that is.

“Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:19) That gets right down to it. Starting way back when, with God as Creator, and then following His vein to where we find ourselves with reference to Him is one ofif not the key journeys of our existence. Many people want to find themselves. But God says He’ll give you to yourself. That’s what He promised Baruch: “thy life will I give unto thee for a prey…” (Jeremiah 45:5)

As an aside, this reminds me of Jesus instructions for fasting: “But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:18, emphasis mine)

When God calls us to go through a period of deprivation, depletion, depression, et cetera, there’s a right way and also a wrong way to do it. And please don’t mistake my self-assertion for pride. Jesus is the one who is doing these things through us, but there’s also the sense of “life ownership” that He gives. All that aside, when we find ourselves in a cave with no light, wondering how we got there, it’s best to sit and wait. Waiting on the Lord is the surest sign that we want God’s will to come of the period of suffering, as opposed to just what we can get out of it.

“Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.” (Psalm 104:20-22) God will provide for you, don’t doubt. But there may well be deeper depths that He has for you to go…

Stalactites and stalagmites are conical growths that are found in caves and are formed by the slow, incessant dripping of mineral-rich water. We know this from yesterday. But when they meet and form a pillar, it’s called a speleothem. Asaph spoke along those lines: “The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it. Selah.” (Psalm 75:3, emphasis mine) You don’t get to feel that way without invitation. The depth of suffering that brings so great weight is truly a privilege. I have felt that for my life. Like I’m holding up everything with my two arms and the world is falling apart and crashing around me. The truth is, Jesus was (is) there with me. And this is where the “selah” comes in. It essentially means to “sit and wait”. With your attention of God, that is. And that is the point of suffering, of doing it right. God is in secret. Jesus said it Himself. The deeper you go with Him and the further down in the “dens and caves of the earth” you explore with Jesus holding your hand, the more that God will let you see sides of Him that only Jesus sees.

“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His covenant.” (Psalm 25:14)

To What Depths? (Higher Highs/Lower Lows Part 1)

“(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?