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The Testimony of the Repaired
by Anthony Weber
6/02/2013 / Death
"Deep calls unto deep," said the writer of Psalm 42 as he was begging God for comfort in the midst of his despair. The word "deep" means "abyss." It can be a literal geographical location, but it can also be that place in one's heart where chaos and emptiness overwhelms. One translation reads, "Hollow howlings hang in the air."
There have been times when the deepest things in me cried out, too. Sometimes, God filled the abyss Himself. Sometimes, He answered by connecting the hollow"deep" within me to the "deep" within others that was once hollow as well, but which He had filled.
My experience has been this: God knows the best help for the despairing comes from those who understand. Jesus' presence on earth showed us that God understands human existence because God himself experienced life on earth. In the same way, our experiences give us a window into the lives of others so that we have an opportunity to walk with them through hard times. Practially speaking, this means God will match "deep" with "deep."
Recovery groups are headed up by people who have gone through (or are going through) the recovery process.
Divorce Care classes are led by people who have experienced the pain of broken families.
The best budgeting advice comes from people who had Ramen Noodles and water the whole way through college.
The best marriage advice comes from people whose marriage has been through the fire.
Be prepared for deep to call out to deep.
Years ago, I realized that the areas in my life that had once been emptied were meant to be a "deep" that heard the cries of others. I knew what it was like to have my howling heard; why would I not respond to others?
Sheila and I had a rough start to our marriage. We didn't know each other; we didn't know how to communicate; we were both selfish and immature. When we counsel couples planning to get married, we tell them about everything we did wrong, because we know what it is like to cry out from the deep.
Recently I walked into a room as someone was getting off the phone. She said, "Sometimes you just have to laugh." When I asked why, she responded, "Because otherwise you have to cry." Then she blurted, without my prompting, "Marriage is hard." And so we talked. Deep calls unto deep.
My father's death brought a void to my emotions, to my prayer life, to my perspective on the sovereignty of God. You know what I can do now that I couldn't before? I can empathize with people.
Last fall I was at a mall in Grand Rapids, and in the food court I met an ex-student I hadn't seen in a while, and she mentioned that her grandfather had died. I told her about my dad, and she asked me very tentatively, "Did you have dreams after he died?" Did I have dreams? Absolutely. And for about 10 minutes in the food court at a mall, we grieved together.
Be prepared for deep to call out to deep.
This will mean telling people about the dark times in your life. For some of you that won't be hard, because it was no secret. For some of you, no one saw that you were damaged, and revealing the hidden secretes of your life will not be as easy.
But if you want others to be comforted as you were, you need to reveal what has been hidden. That doesn't mean you have to run out and tell everybody today, but somewhere there are people who need to hear your story.
Someday, you will hear a mournful but familiar refrain, and you will be ready to answer.
Anthony Weber is a pastor, teacher, husband, father, author and blogger (nightfallsandautumnleaves.blogspot.com; learningtojump.blogspot.com; empiresandmangers.blogspot.com). You can contact Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org
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