A man is walking down a busy street when he falls into a deep hole. The walls are so steep that he can’t climb out.
A doctor passes by on the street above. The man in the hole shouts up, “Hey, doctor! I’m stuck down here. Can you help me?” The doctor writes out a prescription, tosses it into the hole, and continues on his way.
Next the man sees a woman from church. He shouts up, “Excuse me! I’m down in this hole. Can you help me out?” The lady drops a prayer card to the man and keeps walking.
Then an old friend walks by. The man in the hole yells, “Hey, Joe, it’s me! I’m stuck down here! Can you help me?” Joe replies, “Sure!” And he jumps into the hole. The first guy says, “What did you do that for? Now there are two of us stuck in this hole!” Joe says, “Yeah, but I’ve been here before, and I know the way out.”
I know the way out.
Why? Because he’s been there.
Christian singer Mark Schultz wrote a song entitled, “I Have Been There.” In the song, God consoles the needy and the hurting by reminding them that he has been where they are. “I have been there,” he promises. “I know what pain is all about. I know what sorrow’s all about, I have been there, and I’m standing with you now. I have been there, and I came to build a bridge so this road can lead you home.”
I have been there.
There is no place you can go where God cannot accompany you, no depth to which you can plunge that our Lord won’t slip in beside you to hold you up. You are never alone in your pain. Never.
You think I don’t know what I’m talking about? Read these words, written eight years ago by a woman battling mental illness.
“I teeter on the edge of an empty chasm that slowly engulfs me, and as I cry for help, I descend too far into the chasm for anyone to hear my cries.
“And yet, I feel God’s presence in the pitch darkness. I feel his warm breath and the beat of his Sacred Heart as I collapse in his arms, weeping.
“He no longer stands beside me; he holds me because I am too weak to stand alone.”
These words of desperation were written by me.
I’ve known a lot of pain in my life, so if you think I don’t know how desperate someone can be … well, you’d be mistaken.
More important, God knows how we feel. No matter how deep the crevice in which we find ourselves cowering, God can squeeze in beside us. He can descend to any depth and travel any distance to keep us company. If necessary, he will cradle us in his arms for as long as it takes, for as far as it takes.
He’s already been to the cross for us, so surely he has proven his love.
Jesus understands our pain because he’s been there. And he knows the way out.
Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer.