“Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than heaven – what can you do? Deeper than Sheol – what can you know?” – Job 11:7-8*
“Deep calls unto deep,” the psalmist says (Psalm 42:7). How deep? Divers must swim deep to find pearls on the ocean floor. Construction workers must dig deep to lay a foundation. Well builders must dig deep to find clear water (John 4:11). Planters must dig under the topsoil to plant seeds.
Spiritually, God is even deeper (Psalm 36:6, 92:5). He’s like a bottomless pit, which is a good portrait of hell. Those who accidentally enter such places find themselves wrapped in darkness, with not a speck of light. They’re in freefall, alone, and they know that no one can save them.
“How can God be a bottomless pit? He didn’t go to hell, did he?” Yes, he did. Jesus Christ went to hell on the cross. For six hours, he experienced suffering beyond that of ordinary men – spiritual separation from the Father without the possibility of salvation because he drank the cup of God’s righteous wrath on sin (Psalm 22:1, Matthew 27:42-46). It wasn’t an accident either. Jesus, the Lamb of God, was slain from the foundation of the world to save people from sin (1 Peter 1:20, Revelation 13:8). He knew exactly what he was doing.
Because of the cross, we can never plumb the depths of God’s holiness, justice, wisdom, grace, mercy, and love. We can never exhaust the riches of his Word either. But do we even try? Too many Christians know too little about God because they have no spiritual depth. If “deep calls unto deep,” then shallow calls unto shallow. God won’t reveal himself to shallow people. He won’t reveal dark, “deep, and secret things” to them (Job 12:22, Daniel 2:22).
Those who believe and obey the Word dig deep into God. They don’t stop digging until they find solid rock and rich soil (Matthew 7:24-25, 13:8, 23). Then they “take root downward and bear fruit upward” (2 Kings 19:30, Isaiah 37:31). Shallow people are different. When they confront God and his Word, they think surface sand and topsoil are good enough (Matthew 7:26-27, 13:4-7, 19-22). These people hear the gospel and some believe, but none obey. However, only deep Christians endure the storms of life. Shallow, faithless ones fall apart because they refused to dig deep.
All I see today are shallow, materialistic people. They fill church pews! The Holy Spirit reveals “the deep things of God” to us when we pray (1 Corinthians 2:10). We don’t have these good things because we don’t ask God for them (James 4:2). Instead, we ask him for things that satisfy our selfish, worldly lusts (4:3). No wonder the church is weak! She has no spiritual power because she refuses the Holy Spirit’s source – the cross.
We want to be ‘blessed,’ as we define blessing. We don’t want to ‘suffer’ in sickness, death, persecution, and poverty. We don’t want to be friendless and alone either. Jesus suffered all these things. Does that make him cursed? No! Jesus was blessed beyond measure. He prophesied, “The servant isn’t greater than his master. If they persecute me, they’ll persecute you too” (John 15:20). So why do we redefine blessing and cursing? Why do we shun the cross?
The blessing of God is suffering because it tests and refines our faith, removes the dross of sin, and adds depth to our moral characters. The human heart is deceitful and depraved, like a beast (Ecclesiastes 3:18, Jeremiah 17:9). Only God knows its hidden depths. He tests us in suffering in order to bring those depths to the surface (17:10; Psalm 139:23-24). God opens our eyes to our true spiritual condition, our beastly nature, to lead us to repentance (Job 5:17-18, 33:15-30).
Spiritually untested people are enigmas. They can’t be trusted, even if they call themselves Christians. Jesus is trustworthy because he was tested on the cross (Isaiah 28:16; Hebrews 2:10, 17; 4:15-16, 5:8-9, 7:28). We’re called to take up our cross and follow Jesus, dying to sin and self each day (Matthew 16:24, Galatians 2:20). This ‘dying’ is really leaving – things, people, places, and even hopes and dreams (Matthew 19:27-29). Through suffering, what we once valued as priceless treasures we learn to see as cheap trinkets. Only then do we walk away.
God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11, cf Psalm 64:6). He wants us to know him. So let us seek the blessing of God and learn to suffer. Only then will “deep call unto deep.”
* All Scriptures are NKJV, unless otherwise noted.