The Chasm

By Mary Stephens

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Hebrews 13:5 ...for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.


How did I come to this loathsome place - this deep, dark canyon with its high sheer sides where no light penetrates the constant gloom - this vale that is filled with shadows and darkness? It seems only yesterday I was walking in pleasant places full of sunshine and fresh breezes. While I was not noticing the road descended into this fearsome depth. I would not turn back. I am no Ephraimite (Ps. 78:9). But, I could not if I would, for the path has closed behind me and there is no way to go but forward and through.

What a dreadful place this is! The sides are too steep to climb. The path beneath my feet is slippery stone. Somewhere below, still further down, I hear the rush of angry torrents which fills me with a great foreboding. If I should slip and fall...but death and heaven would seem far better to me than this horrible place...yet it's only death's shadow I see.

I find here cliffs that bar my way. They do not reach the top, though they must be scaled if I would go on, but there seems no way up. Here are great boulders around which I find no path, yet I must cross them to move forward. In the low places mire must be crossed, yet safe stepping stones seem hard to find. The way seems barred by obstacles at every turn, and the mists keep me from seeing if it's better up ahead.
From the cliffs above me I hear the lion roar (1 Peter 5:8). The whisper of the enemy falls upon my ear. I think I hear the hiss of the serpent at my very heels, but I dare not look. Above, in the darkened sky, great vultures of doubt circle. Waiting...waiting...waiting... And, in every dangerous spot, in every place where I scarce can make my way; I find the ugly, greedy hands of sin laying hold upon me with terrifying strength.
"The heart knoweth his own bitterness..." (Prv. 14:10) How very true these words! In the green pastures and quiet valleys, beside the still waters I knew sweet communion with my fellow pilgrims. There I found fellowship that was sweet even in the midst of sorrow and weary sameness. But here none goes with me. It is a place of wretched loneliness. Here, in this place of fears within (2 Cor. 7:5), I must walk alone. Alone?
No... There is a Light that pierces this fierce darkness (Jn. 8:12), seeming all the brighter for the gloom. Though He does not show me the end of this place, He lights one step at a time with His glorious presence. One step is all I need. This Light from heaven, shed forth by my wonderful Lord, guides my feet safely over the mire, around the great boulders, and up the steep cliffs clearly showing the safe route over and up and through. And, as the beauty of His holiness shines upon me, I am utterly aware of my own weakness. Through this He makes me strong (2 Cor. 12:10).
There is a hand that holds me. I do not hold this hand; but am completely wrapped within it, supported on every side. When I am faint, He sustains me. His "gentleness hath made me great" and He enlarges my steps under me so that my feet do not slip (Ps. 18:35).  In Him there is perfect safety. In Him - shelter. In Him - all power. I know that nothing may reach me which He does not permit. All - both good and ill - must pass through His hand before it touches me. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He allows these trials and worketh them together for my good (Rom. 8:28).
Along this miserable path, when the darkness is almost too great, where the way seems hard beyond belief, when my feet are most sore and utter despair hovers over me - it is here, in these most wretched moments that I find pieces of Gethsemane. Here I find the sweetest rose of Sharon blooming among the sharpest thorns. The rare perfume of my lily-of-the-valley refreshes my soul after the heavy, stale air of the crevices. And here, as I kneel to pray, I find, not dew, but as it were great drops of sweat and blood (Luke 22:44); and I remember my precious Lord Who passed this way before me and I know that He is touched with the feeling of my infirmities - yea, even intercedes for me before His Father in heaven (Heb. 4:14-16). I find great comfort in this, knowing that His love is beyond all others, and that nothing - NOTHING! - can separate me from that love (Rom. 8:38-39).
Though this chastening place is not joyous but grievous to me (Heb. 12:11), yet my Comforter abides within my heart and sanctifies this great distress to my weary soul. He gives me songs of deliverance even at times when it seems most strange to sing (Ps. 32:7). And, oh, His compassions are so great! His ministrations are so kind and loving, even when they cause grief for a brief moment! (Lam. 3:32) And when my broken heart cannot find words to utter my request, then this Comforter bears my groanings for me, speaking them plainly before God's throne of grace (Rom. 8:26).
How long I must travel in this dreary place I do not know. Perhaps tomorrow I will reach the top. Perhaps next week or next year. But this I know, that Jesus Christ is all in all to me! Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him (Job 13:15), for I cannot suffer more than He has suffered for me. When I consider Him (Heb. 12:3), I see His ways are perfect. Surely He hath borne my griefs and carried my sorrows (Is. 53:4). Alone He died for me, and as He brought me here to be alone with Him, I find my strength, my hope, my life in Him alone!
Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.



Other similar pages on this site:

God's Shut-ins

No Greater Love

Others May, You Cannot

The Many Crosses to Bear



 back ground & graphics by Mary Stephens
Edited June 2015; updated 2019