By Deacon Derick Cranston
While looking at pictures of a group of friends traveling to the Holy Land, I saw images of the Jordan River that stood out for me. First, this is the place where Jesus was baptized. Second, everyone in the picture was at the lowest point of their lives — literally.
Not emotionally and by no means spiritually, but literally. At 1,410 feet below sea level, the Jordan River is geographically the lowest place on the surface of the earth. The Jordan River is also near the Dead Sea, the deepest body of water at 2,460 feet below sea level!
What does that say about our Lord and Savior? That he chose the lowest place on earth to begin his public ministry? That the one who gave us life after death, was baptized in waters flowing near a Sea called Dead? For me, it means that he is willing to meet us even at the lowest point in our lives, when we feel emotionally and spiritually that we have hit rock bottom.
I am sure almost all of you have had some type of experience like this. I know I have, and I have ministered to many others who have been in this dark place. In fact, many saints have experienced this feeling. St. John of the Cross wrote “The Dark Night of the Soul” detailing his struggles at a spiritual and emotional low point.
St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote about “desolations” in his Spiritual Exercises. He wrote the Exercises after he had lived in a cave for a year and came close to taking his life by suicide. More recently, we learned in a biography of St. Teresa of Kolkata that she experienced years of spiritual darkness. Still, she never lost her faith in God.
Christ never promised St. Teresa or any of us an easy life. However, he does promise life eternal after the trials and tribulations of this one. Christ desires that we trust in his love for us, whenever we find ourselves at a low point. Christ is always there waiting for us.
(Deacon Cranston is pastoral associate for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)