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Jesus Shares the Depths of Our Darkest Times

In Jeffrey Eugenides's novel The Marriage Plot, the character Mitchell moves to India as a young man to volunteer. After a couple of weeks, he is faced with a man who has massively defecated in his own bed. In the midst of the chaos, Mitchell suddenly cannot stand it. Despite knowing he will forever regret this, he turns away from the wretch he should be taking care of, runs out of the building, scoops up his belongings and escapes by train.

Mitchell discovered something true and awful about himself: There were things he could not stand, depths into which he could not plunge. He discovered that he had untested limits.

But not for Jesus. To enter the human condition, Jesus came down from heaven. Then down further. He pierced into the saddest and lowest human conditions—grief, degradation, betrayal, and torture. Then he died in the worst way possible, his unimaginable physical pain accompanied by the mental anguish of being abandoned by God. There is no darkness into which a human being can descend that Jesus has not already descended.

Editor's Note: The author of this article, Victor Lee Austin, tells a moving story about caring for his wife as she struggled and then died from brain cancer and subsequent treatments. He writes,

She lost the ability to plan projects. She slept 10 or more hours a day. When awake, she retreated into a rich world of books and puzzles. Her mental acuity never disappeared, but she found it increasingly difficult to share her thoughts with the world … . Her physical condition continued to deteriorate, and she died in 2012 at age 57.
About a year later, I found myself preaching on a sentence that Jesus spoke from the cross: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The son of God, with that simple question, plumbed the depth of my loss. In the years that I was the principal caregiver for my wife, I did things I never imagined I'd have to do: caring for her body, thinking for her, arranging her days. My shortcomings often humbled me. But what if it had gotten even harder before she died? I do not know for sure that I could have gone on. For all of us, there are always untested limits.

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