Stronger Than Brokenness
Just a couple of days ago, I took Collins to Urban Air, an indoor trampoline park about twenty-five minutes away from our house. On Wednesday mornings, it’s only open for kids five and under, & it costs five dollars to jump/run/bounce/play/squeal for two straight hours. You know where to find us every Wednesday for the next four years.
We walked in the same time another mom and her little girl walked in. I didn’t notice until we were done paying and getting wristbands that the little girl didn’t have any hair but donned a thin headband with flowers on it. She had pink ankle braces on both legs and a light blue mask over her mouth. I read her mom’s t-shirt: “My God is stronger than cancer.” I watched her play volleyball and jump in the foam pit. I watched her play, and I watched her mom right beside her, and I watched Collins, who seemed to be following them around, which meant I was following them around. Her mom told me she is three, & my heart just shattered. Her mom acted like every other mom—having fun with her girl and staying close to keep her safe. I can only imagine the pain she experiences daily. She is a hero.
When Blake and I each had our adoption interviews a few months ago, our caseworker asked me what singular thing breaks me more than anything else— & without thinking or blinking, I said brokenness. Seeing people in pain & suffering—seeing people broken—it’s devastating. There’s a particular gas station in Dallas I’ve stopped at a couple of times that seems to always be a magnet for homeless people. All I think when I see them and talk with them is these men and women were born just like I was. They were babies who wanted to be held, and they grew into kids who just wanted to play. What happened in their lives that brought them to this place? It’s haunting how many people fall through the cracks, people we may never notice. But God does—He not only sees them, but He is with them. Of this, I am sure.
Every single one of us is broken. And when our brokenness comes out in big ways—the sickness, the death, the violence, the hate that builds and the vengeance that follows—my soul bleeds, and I know many of you are the same way. Sometimes it can all come crashing & give us the fleeting worry that pain and suffering is greater than God because we can’t always see Him in those moments. I’ve wrestled with that fear for a while—If something terribly bad happens in my own life, will I doubt God’s love for me? Will I question His power and goodness? Will I wonder if He even hears me?
I’ve watched an extreme hardship unfold recently, and while I am not at liberty to share those details out of respect for those involved, I can truthfully say it unraveled me. It was one long anxiety attack, & I had no idea what to do with it. Prayer only seemed to remind me of the brokenness, and while I grieved alongside the others, I felt like I had nothing to offer, & that’s a very empty feeling. While we never plan for the hardships in our lives, we always hope that when they come, we are equipped to weather them. Needless to say, I was incredibly disappointed to watch myself handle life with such little perseverance.
Despite the pain and anger towards the whole situation, my strength did come—and it came from knowing without the shadow of a doubt that my God is stronger than brokenness. He does not put us through pain as a punishment, and He does not let pain happen because He isn’t strong enough to stop it. The strength God has to go through trial after trial with His beloved children is unfathomable to me. We have the God of kindness pursuing us. His ways are pure and never manipulative. We are a people of brokenness, a people who fully grasps the concept of consequences, the concept of payback, the concept of manipulation, the concept of getting what we deserve. However, we can’t seem to wrap our minds around a God who would love us with such a fierceness as to keep coming after our hearts when we’ve walked away from Him over and over again, a God who not only sees us in our darkest places but joins us, cupping our faces in His hands & saying, You are precious, & I love you, & I will never leave you. This is our God. In the joy of life and the suffering, this is our Jesus. He gives us freedom solely so we can be free (Galatians 5:1).
One night when I was struggling to focus on Jesus over the darkness, I heard the phrase Divine Intervention spoken to my heart, and I knew it was Him—my Jesus who was with me all along, hurting with me but gently telling me of His plans to redeem. Divine Intervention. Those two words became my prayer and the words I could give as a hope to others because they weren’t mine—they were much greater.
We are all in such need of Divine Intervention. For ourselves, our families and our friends, for this world. We never have to look far to find pain and suffering, do we? It’s everywhere, and it’s crushing. It’s one of the biggest reasons I’m so grateful for Jesus—our King who came to this earth and experienced our pain. He’s with us in every moment because while this world will be full of brokenness as long we have free will, we get to choose Him and find peace and perhaps even some beauty in the midst of it all. Our God is not absent in the pain. I fully believe we were given the instructions to “rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” because that is the way of Jesus (Romans 12:5). He is here and more present than we know. But we have to choose Him. We have to have the faith to stand up or kneel down and say I cannot handle this life on my own. I am in such a desperate need for a sovereign presence in my heart. I am so thirsty for satisfaction. It takes vulnerability, yes. It requires us to put away our pride and our questions for a moment and simply admit that we are not enough. He will surely come. “For I know my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25)
Our church has partnered with Explore God, a seven-week series that approached the seven most “Googled” questions about God. Because the thing is, we never stop having questions because nobody has all the answers. Nobody. But we can come together in a safe place, learning from one another and being encouraged to continue our walk with God through the questions. There are brief interviews discussing each of the questions at Explore God’s website.
The one so fitting for this post is “Why does God allow pain and suffering?” Wherever you are in life, a follower of Jesus, a doubter, or going a completely different direction, I think you would get something big out of these people’s stories. If I could bring you a mug of coffee & sit with you to watch this, I absolutely would.
And if you need a reminder of the nature of Jesus, I am currently addicted to Amanda Cook’s song, Pieces from her album, Brave New World. Here’s the lyric video.