The Constant Paradox of the Orthodox

From the Puritan prayer book The Valley of Vision


Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, 
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights; 
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox 
that the way down is the way up, 
that to be low is to be high, 
that the broken heart is the healed heart, 
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, 
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, 
that to have nothing is to possess all, 
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, 
that to give is to receive, 
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, 
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness, 
thy life in my death, 
thy joy in my sorrow, 
thy grace in my sin, 
thy riches in my poverty, 
thy glory in my valley.

     Whenever I read this I think of Job. Not the Job in chapter one, but the Job on the ash heap in chapter two, and in 42 just before his restoration and increase when having suffered he developed a clearer picture of God than any could’ve ever dreamed when he said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

     Suffering doesn’t necessarily bring about wisdom, but for the righteous it is a surgical tool in God’s hand.

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