“When you stare persistently into an abyss, the abyss also stares into you” – Friedrich Nietzsche.
Nietzsche, a 19th-century philosopher was widely known as a critic of Judeo-Christian morality, as well as religion in general. However, I find this quote astoundingly true to us modern-day humans, with more weight to us Christians. It is relevant to us, because we, by the grace of God and redemption given through Christ, have stared into the abyss of Hell and were rescued.
I had heard this statement many times before learning of its origin. I’m sure my interpretation would not delight this Earthly logician, but I believe all of us believers can benefit from this – and possibly only this one—observation of Nietzsche.
I spoke with someone recently who felt so overwhelmed by their current plight, that in tears, they echoed the above quote to me. I couldn’t help but agree. I told this person the reason she couldn’t see a way out was because she was staring into the abyss and being consumed by it and the problem before her. Sometimes we need to look up to find the light.
As I tried to help by pointing out that with prayer, a quick breath and looking at the obstacle step-by-step, a solution out of the darkness could be seen. Then it dawned on me that we all – all of us Christians – have stared at the abyss, and saw it staring back at us. The only safety from the abyss comes from God.
Sure, there are those times when it feels like our bills, our jobs, our kids, or our lives as a whole can’t possibly get any worse. Just when you think you can see over the edge, something else goes awry and pulls you right back down. But as Christians, we know that the deepest of chasms of this world is just a small drainage ditch compared to the void of life Jesus Christ has saved us from. So how do we know that we can make it through the rift? It’s as simple as a kids’ song: “The Bible tells me so.”
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it,” – 1 Corinthians 1:13 (New International Version).
My fellow humans believe this: He is NOT the source of our temptation. God does not bring troubles upon us, regardless of those around us who look up and curse Him when a new problem arises.
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed,” – James 1:13 (NIV).
God is not the source of our trials, but He does allow us to be tried, and as the verses above explain, He will help us if we rely on Him.
There are those around us who can’t seem to escape the holes of this world, because they haven’t experienced salvation from the eternal hollow place. They stare into the chasm and it stares back at them. They don’t know that God can and will help them out of every situation. But from my personal experience – and watching others near to me – I know, that the above quote isn’t consistently true. Staring into the abyss is only the beginning of being consumed by it.
When you travel down a path, as I once did, on which you begin to make one wrong decision after another – along with continuing the same mistakes over and over – you no longer see the abyss in front of you. You see it all around you. The abyss isn’t staring at you any longer, because you are inside it. It is already staring at someone else – the next person who has begun staring into it. And so, the farther away from the truth you get the more mistaken you become.
As Christians, it is our responsibility to shine God’s love through us. Just as the moon is a reflection of the sun, we are to reflect God’s light to those around us who are being consumed by the abyss, as well as those who are beginning to stare into it. It is our duty to live a life that allows God to shine through us so that others can see the light, shining to them and showing them the way out.
Jesus himself told the people who led us out, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you,” – John 15:12.
We, the believers in Christ, saw that love in someone who was near us and that love spread to us. Some unbelievers think that we Christians think we are somehow “better” than them. Truth is, us believers, we’ve all been there where you are– stuck on a road to Hell. But someone prayed for us. Someone showed us God’s love and we were able to see His light and be rescued from Hell.
I recently heard a substitute preacherman point out something obvious that we don’t often think about. Kids say, “I want to be a professional baseball player.” Another says, “I want to be an astronaut.” While another puts her hand on her hip, tilts her body just right and announces, “I’m gonna be a pop star.”
If those children aren’t encouraged to pick up a bat; if they never crack a science book or if they never practice an instrument or learn how to sing, then they can’t really wonder why those dreams were never achieved.
I hear adults all the time saying we need to pray for the lost – those who do not know Jesus Christ and the free forgiveness He offers. Tis true, we do need to pray for them and lift them up to God. But that isn’t where the work ends. We have to shine them to God’s path out of the darkness.
If you don’t believe in God and you’ve read this far, please continue.
I’m not saying it’s always simple and easy with God. I’m not saying that you can pray and then everything is instantly taken care of – there are consequences to living a life of sin. Receiving forgiveness through sincere prayer will immediately put you on the right track. But sometimes it takes time to get past the mistakes of the wrong track when you’ve traveled it for so long. But once God puts you on His footpath for your life, it becomes increasingly easier to see the way in front of you. So don’t give up when a problem persists; don’t give in when tempted. He will show you the way you are supposed to go – the way out of the abyss, a.k.a., the way out of Hell.
Father God, we thank You for saving us and we thank You for the people You placed in our lives who shined Your light while we were staring up from the abyss. We thank you for giving us the opportunity to lead others to you and out of the void. We pray that our reflection of You is bright and unwavering to them. We pray that You will open the hearts of those in our lives who need to know You. You have placed us in their lives to help guide them to you and we thank you for that. We pray that you will give us the courage and words to speak to them that will shine Your light to them. Give us the courage to follow You completely and do Your work. Amen!