"For I am convinced that... neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8: 38+39)
Do you know, why? - Because both are part of God's love. In Eph. 3:18, Paul prays that we "may have power... to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."
We all love to experience the height of his love, namely the ecstasy of his presence and the exhilaration that comes with the joys of life and the amazement about the beauty of nature. It is uncomfortable, even scary, to think about a God, who is willing to allow hardship, removing the hedge of protection, even to a point where evil seems to win the day. It explodes the neat picture of God, removing him from the box we have placed him in. Suddenly we agree with the Narnians, "He is not safe!" It is true that God does not tempt anyone to evil, but in his sovereignty he sometimes chooses to allow it.
I have experienced some of these depths,
- when checking myself into an orphanage as a teenager.
- when going through four years of depression.
- when loosing our beloved firstborn daughter and walking through the resulting marriage crisis.
That is when we stand with Job, crying out, "Why?", hammering our fists at the chest of the Almighty, only to realize that we are not to expect an answer. The key to grasping the purpose of these depths is "being rooted and established in love" which is the preceding verse to Eph. 3:18. By understanding that God is for us and that he loves us, we no longer shrink back in fear, when hardship comes our way. Knowing that God chose to allow suffering even in his only begotten son's life, does not provide answers, but enables us to trust that God is good and that his thoughts are higher than ours. Jesus descended lower than we will ever have to, namely to the depths of hell, for our sake. This gives us the courage to trust that, in his compassion, he will only bring about pain necessary for our healing.
In all these things, God purposefully removes any confidence in our own strength, or in the support of others, in order to satisfy our aching hearts, with which we finally come running to him. If we are willing to trust God, our hard times will result in knowing him more intimately and will create in us a yearning for more of him. The depth cannot separate us from God's love; God meets us and embraces us in the midst of it.
Therefore, let us pray with Paul that, "being rooted and established in love, we may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." (Eph. 3:17+18)