The Beauty of a Broken Life!

knowing-god-by-heart-screen-graphic-1024x768While counseling a couple who are searching for answers and restoration, I felt a surge of empathy as they described their feelings of being ignored by Christian people. A believer from our fellowship had joined me in the session, offering support from her own experience. As she spoke of her journey to wholeness, the compassion in that room was powerful and healing!  After the session, as I prayed for that couple, I realized what a different man I am now.  I am softer, more tender, as a result of my own journey through brokenness. Whatever Pharisaical notions of self-righteousness that gripped me in the past have been stripped away by not one, not two, not three – but many experiences of wounding. And, I am thankful!

Please understand that I am not glorifying suffering. I am not suggesting that only road to God requires that we inflict terrible pain on ourselves.  However, I do believe that there are incredible experiences of the Divine that are only possible when we follow our Savior wherever He leads, including through times that break us. We love the story of the Resurrection, claiming the new life and power that were released at that moment as our own – as well we should. We cannot forget that that Easter Sunday would not have happened without Good Friday!  The pathway to that eternal triumph led Him to the humiliation of the Cross, His willingness to be broken becoming the means of our being made whole.

In her new book, The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp points us to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper which is a re-telling of brokenness – bread, from broken wheat, telling us of the Broken Body of the Savior; the cup, from  crushed grapes, telling us of His Spilled Blood.  It is a ugly rite that tells a beautiful story.

Paul writes “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.”  I am with him there, aren’t you, too?  Yes, Lord, give me power to live in triumph, to banish fears and anxiety, to beat back sickness and hurts. Take away the temptations. But, the apostle completes the thought this way.  “I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:10-11, NLT)  Not so excited about that part, are we?  Suffer? Death? Feelings of inadequacy emerging from my awareness of my weakness?  Yet, there it is. No Resurrection without a prior death!

Millions of Christians do all that they can do to avoid painful honesty, difficult places of services, or even living with the mystery of unexplained hurt. They live in the fool’s paradise of denial, shouting about victories they have not won. They choose to sing songs of adoration on Sunday while living in childish selfishness that avoids the pain of their world all week long. They cover over their doubts, their fears, with platitudes and proof texts as if every situation in life can be neatly explained to our satisfaction.  The result is a kind of “Christianity” that is sickeningly superficial and impotent.

Let me say it again.  God does not ask us to beat or to inflict pain on ourselves like the ascetics of another age.  Life will do that for us if we are walking with Christ, dying to Self, taking the pilgrim pathway.  However, when those times come instead of insisting on relief, instead of cursing the darkness, instead of wailing about the unfairness of it all – let’s choose radical faith that lets Him lead where He wills even it if means finding wholeness only through being broken.  I can tell you something I could not have said with much conviction even a few years ago –  His grace is sufficient for us each day.  I would have told you that I could not survive a 20 month journey through cancer to the death of my beloved wife, but He allowed that path and, in trusting Him, I am here a man battered and broken but alive to God and discovering new grace for each day.

Here is a word from the Word. May it encourage those of you who are in hard places to trust Him for strength.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. … For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! …

We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. … We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-9, NLT)

“And, when the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown!”

___________

Blessings

We pray for blessings,
We pray for peace comfort for family
Protection while we sleep
We pray for healing for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand
To ease our suffering
And all the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness
We doubt Your love
As if ev’ry promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while You hear each desp’rate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not this is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is a revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain the storms the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

 

Laura Story © 2011 Laura Stories (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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