Monday, May 21, 2012

Finding God in Our Brokenness

Our society is so obsessed with people having it all "together." In fact, we idolize "togetherness" (I realize that's probably not a word, but you know what I mean). Think about it: we say, admiringly, about people: "So-and-so really has it all together." And we say, critically, "So-and-so really needs to get their act together." And I don't think these are just innocuous figures of speech--having it all together, putting on a good face for people, and never displaying any weakness or brokenness are all valued ideals in our culture. And it's incredibly hard to learn how to embrace a reckless vulnerability around people we've spent years trying to convince of our own strength.

But what does that say about brokenness, and the people who experience it? And let's be honest with ourselves--we ALL experience brokenness, tears, weakness, grief, and loss. It is part of the human condition, no matter how hard we may try to suppress it or ignore it. But I believe that when someone is experiencing brokenness, whether it be in body, mind, heart, or spirit, our natural tendency is to try to to help them "get over it" as quickly as possible, and we feel like we need to help them "fix it"--ASAP.

But sometimes, there is that season of deep brokenness, when the quick fixes utterly fail to accomplish their purpose, and when almost no words can help. It's those times when we feel pressured to hide our pain from others, desperate to reconcile our own condition both with our society's demand that we "get it together," and with the common assumption that God, Himself, expects us to have our lives together in order to come to Him. This usually is our condition when we lose things--or people--we thought we could never live without. We don't know how we can come before God in these times because we feel as though we have less than nothing to bring. We try to pray, but we can't even say anything. We can't put words on our experience--our hurting hearts are quiet.

But then the questions bubble up to the surface of our hearts and can't be ignored: Can our own theology coincide with a shattered heart? And, perhaps the simplest question of all: how can we keep our eyes on Jesus when they are full of tears?

And in times like these, we find ourselves asking, “Is Jesus really, truly ENOUGH?” Just Jesus. Jesus and nothing else, nothing that we thought we had to have just to survive. Is Jesus still worthy of all our praise? Is Jesus enough in the desert while we beg for rain? Is He enough when we are brokenhearted? Is Jesus enough in the wilderness, in the darkness, in the valley of the shadow of death? Is His name still worthy to be blessed?

I don't know all the answers, but I do know that Christ steps into the gap and experiences our brokenness with us. John 11 describes Jesus' response when he went to visit Mary and Martha, whose brother Lazarus had just died. Mary ran out to meet him and fell at his feet weeping. John then writes, “When Jesus saw her weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled . . . Jesus wept.” I find it very moving that the only time recorded in Scripture in which Jesus broke down in tears was in response to a woman weeping. When Jesus saw Mary weeping from her loss, devastated and broken, He cried with her.

In Spanish, to say “I’m sorry,” people say, “lo siento,” which literally means, “I feel it.” I feel it. I’m sorry. I’ve always thought this expression was just a bit richer, a bit more genuine, than our quick and often halfhearted “sorry.” I feel it. I feel with you. Perhaps in some way, Christ, crying with this weeping and broken woman, was expressing the original “lo siento.” A divine compassion of unmatched depth. The original, “I feel it.” This means that we never feel anything alone. No matter what we experience, Christ experiences it with us. No matter how dirty, how awful, how excruciating. He feels it. He is sorry in the truest sense of the word. And He cries with us today, no matter what brokenness or what loss has caused us to collapse at his feet in tears. This is true sympathy and true compassion, both of which come from Greek words meaning "to suffer with another." Christ suffers with us. He mourns with us. He weeps with us.

And God still invites us to come to Him--no matter how messed up our lives are and how far we may be from "having it all together." We can glorify him in the desert as well as in the harvest. We are invited to bring our tears and our pain to the altar before him, not just our blessings and our joys. Frankly, God can handle our mess, if anyone can. He invites us to come even when all we have to bring is anger, grief, desperation, and doubt. God doesn’t tell us just to bring him our praises, all the while clutching our pain close to our hearts and keeping it to ourselves. Here’s what I think: coming to God with our pain IS a form of praise. Trusting God with our pain IS worship. Even if that's all we have to bring, God still wants us to come.

Our brokenness is actually, in some strange way, a miracle--because if we weren't broken, we wouldn't need a Savior. Grace is for lives like ours--which can be a mess and are most assuredly not perfect.

I can't claim to know why brokenness happens, but I do know, from my own experience, that Jesus is indeed ENOUGH. Even in doubt. Even in gut-wrenching grief. Even in tears. Even in a very dark and very painful wilderness. He is enough. And that is enough for me.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Lauren - this ministers to me this morning in my brokenness 💕


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