When I Go Down To The Depths

Life was not going according to plan.  MY plan anyways.  And because of that, I was angry. I was bitter. I felt out of control. I began to feel as though God was punishing me.  

One injury after another and I had found myself bedridden.  Unable to sit or lay or move without pain.  Unable to get in and out of my bed without assistance. I couldn’t manage my home. I couldn’t meet my responsibilities. I couldn’t do for myself. I couldn’t ease the pain. I felt useless. I felt stuck. I was Imprisoned in my own personal hell. Betrayed by my body and in some ways, I felt betrayed by God.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

Days of staring at my wall lead to hours of blaming doctors and a heart that began to be filled with rage. Self pity began to turn into a belief of hopelessness. My heart was becoming hardened. This wasn’t part of the plan! I started to become frustrated with God. Didn’t he realize how busy I am? Didn’t he know what my calendar looked like? Didn’t he see me working hard on my goals only to allow for them to be squashed in an instant?

When our plans don’t go according to plan, how do we embrace our circumstances?  With peace or with rage?

It’s a question that I’ve been facing head on in the last several weeks. Looking back now, past the worst parts of that suffering, I realize that I had pulled away from God in my anger. I had turned inward. I teetered on the edge of allowing my view of God to change, when my circumstances became difficult.  

See, when life is good, it’s really good.  But at times, when it’s bad, it’s really bad.  And when I was faced with the really bad, I had a choice to make.  I could choose to remember that God is still who he says he is, or believe that he had abandoned me.  In my circumstance, in my suffering, in my pain; I started to believe the latter.

Then one morning, as I lay in bed, I glanced over at my Bible laying beside me on my nightstand.  I realized how I hadn’t opened it in over a week, though it had been there the entire time I had been.  In a way, I suppose I had chosen not to open it and with that realization, I could no longer deny that I was allowing my difficult circumstance to harden me.  I reached for the book that had comforted me thousands of times before, hoping that it would once again draw me nearer to the light.   Psalm 139 was bookmarked so I read it aloud, slowly reciting it at first but as I read, I began to speak it over my life.

Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.

You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 

even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

11 

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”

12 

even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

15 

My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

17 

How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!

18 

Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 

If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!

20 

They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.

21 

Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?

22 

I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.

23 

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 

See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

By the time I reached the last verse, I began to feel a softening of my mood. The weight was lightening. Then I read it aloud again, only this time as I read, I paused between each verse and stated a truth.  The words on the page, and those that I inserted, became a conversation between God and I.  A prayer.  A declaration.  A battle cry against the darkness that had been trying so hard to consume and define me.  This is what I said;

Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.

“You love me.”

You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.

“I am your child.”

You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.

“You love me.”

Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.

“I am your child.”

You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.

“You love me.”

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

“I am your child.”

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?

“You love me.”

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

“I am your child.”

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

“You love me.”

10 

even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

“I am your child.”

11 

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”

“You love me.”

12 

even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

“I am your child.”

13 

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

“You love me.”

14 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

“I am your child.”

15 

My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

“You love me.”

16 

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

“I am your child.”

17 

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!

“You love me.”

18 

Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

“I am your child.”

19 

If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!

“You love me.”

20 

They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.

“I am your child.”

21 

Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?

“I am your child.”

22 

I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.

“I am your child.”

23 

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.

“I am your child.”

24 

See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

“You love me.”

And there, in my bed, crippled with pain and tears rolling down my face, I remembered who God is and who I am.  As if I could feel it physically happen, the bitterness left me and it was replaced with peace for my circumstance. I felt peace about the road I had ahead; a long road of recovering and strengthening my body-a road I had no desire to travel down- but I knew my strength could not come from me. It would have to come from Him.

We’re not promised a life without suffering.  We’re not promised that walking with God means easy circumstances.  Later that night I was reminded of this.  Gripped by a debilitating panic attack, brought on by medications and pain and exhaustion, I was spiraling.  In fact, I believed I was dying.   But God sent my mom.  Face to face on video call she began to calm me down.  She reasoned with me.  She relaxed me.  She spoke with me.  She told me what to do when I couldn’t think through the next step.  But most importantly, she brought light.  She spoke truth.  She reminded me that God loves me.  And with that statement, I remembered the words I had spoken to God earlier that day, “I am your child.  You love me.”  

After we hung up I went back to Psalm 139.  Only this time I focused in on verses 8 and 12.  I closed my eyes and began to say aloud, “When I go down to the depths, you are with me.  Even the darkness is like a light to you.” 

And I repeated it again,

“When I go down to the depths, you are with me.  Even the darkness is like a light to you.”

And again,

“When I go down to the depths, you are with me.  Even the darkness is like a light to you.”

I might have said it 40 or more times that night.  In fact, I repeated those words aloud until I felt God’s presence and His peace come over me.  I said it over and over again until I felt the gravity of the words that I spoke and the unfailing love that they held.  The promise that God is far more powerful than any evil in this world, than any injury, than any loss, than any suffering; a truth that settles my soul.  And there, in my bad circumstance, the anxiety lifted and darkness was filled with light.

I’m ashamed to say that in my suffering and in the midst of severe physical pain, I lost sight of who God is and who I am to Him and in Him.  But that’s sin for you.  That’s the fallen world.  Even those of us who fiercely love God and want to please Him, go astray.  Looking back now, I’m grateful to have walked the long road through it, knowing now how easy it was to lose sight of that truth.  God reminded me, again, to trust Him, no matter what.  And so, I must trust Him through the recovery, through the pain and through the next trial that comes.

Because even when life doesn’t go the way we want it to, perhaps especially when it doesn’t, and when our circumstances change course from the plans that we’ve made; God hasn’t changed.  He never does.  He’s still the same.  He’s still there.  He still loves us.  He’s still the light.  He’s still the peace.  He’s still who he says he is.  We just need to stay near to him in order that we won’t be hardened while we travel through the valley.  Attempting to travel it alone will be a much harder and lonelier journey.

You know, time in the valley and God allowing us to visit there, it’s not because he’s stopped loving us or forgotten us or didn’t hear our heart cry.  But in every single test and in every single trial, there is a testimony.  In fact, there is no testimony without a test.  The question is, when we’re faced with that trial, will we become hardened or will we choose to walk through it with God?  Will we become bitter and stay that way or will we embrace the opportunity to grow? Will we choose to struggle through the valley alone or will we grab onto his extended hand, letting him lead the way?  Because he’s right there.  He always is.  It’s us who choose to pull away not the other way around.  

The choice is ours to make and it’s a choice that we will need to make over and over again. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.  Believe who God says He is or become hardened.  The truth is this; our circumstances are always changing but God remains the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. No matter how far gone you are, no matter how you’ve messed up, no matter how angry you became, no matter how bitter you’ve felt; you are never too far gone and you are never too deep down in the depths for the redemptive love of Christ to reach you because you are God’s child and he loves you.

Photo by Jackson David on Pexels.com

5 thoughts on “When I Go Down To The Depths

  1. What a powerful testimony of God’s power no matter how difficult the circumstances! Thank you for sharing so beautifully!

    Like

  2. Thanks for sharing your story of suffering. I am so thankful that we have a God who cares, who meets us where we are, and never fails to bring beauty from pain. I love the reminder that we get to choose to focus on His love for us!

    Like

  3. God doesn’t change and He is always there with us, indeed! Thanks for your openness and for sharing:)

    Like

  4. Thanks for keeping it real here! I certainly related! I think many moms struggle with these issues, and it’s so helpful for us to bring them to the light! I pray every woman who needs these words finds them!

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  5. So thankful for God’s love. Thanks for sharing. Many blessings to you!

    Like

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