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Into the Abyss

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. Psalm 13:1-4

While I don’t have a memory of believing that God has forgotten me, I do know what it feels like to lose sight of His face, wanting nothing more than to see it or touch Him or in some tangible way, have my faith confirmed as it slips forcefully out of my grip. I do know what it feels like to wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart. I do know the experience of feeling like those who are not “on my team” are winning, getting their way, feeling affirmed for their opposing view point as I sit feeling defeated, disoriented and weary. My eyes have never (or at least, not yet) sunk fully into the darkness, but I have observed others who have lost all hope and even all strength or desire to hope. There seem to be far more stories, or stories more readily available, of those who have felt overcome. Even by those who have kept their lives insulated beyond belief, the presence of darkness as experienced through disappointment, betrayal, irreconcilable divides, bitterness, discontent, and so on is irrefutable. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). Mark 15:34 Jesus entered into the abyss of darkness – the oppressive weight of life’s heartaches, of personal isolation, of separation from the oxygen of relational connectedness, of shameful guilt, of shame itself…He was naked and felt the shame.

This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:

I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens,

who spreads out the earth by myself, who foils the signs of false prophets

and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise

and turns it into nonsense, who carries out the words of his servants

and fulfills the predictions of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’ of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,’ and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’ who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry, and I will dry up your streams,’ who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’ Is. 44:24-28

When creation fell into brokenness, into the abyss of sin and death and all ensuing sorrows, a promise of restoration was made. By wounding the second Adam, would the first Adam and all his offspring be healed. By the judgment and destruction of the second Adam, would the blessing and new creation come. See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Is. 65:17-19 Chad and I were watching The Princess Bride and had just finished the scene where Wesley and the princess come out of the fire forest where Wesley is wounded by a giant rat and they both had nearly suffocated after a fall into a sand pit. Chad said, “He seems much nicer after he got hurt in that forest.” While unlike the dread pirate Wesley, Jesus had no sin prior to His suffering, His obedient immersion into the abyss of darkness and death results in our transformation so that I can now emerge on the other side of His injury not simply “nicer”, but with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. His Spirit will never be taken from me, nor will I ever be separated from His love as only Jesus endured on behalf of His creation. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. Romans 8:20-21

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