A quick word search through a concordance reveals that “broken” appears numerous times in the Bible.
Vows were broken. Commands were broken. People were broken under the burden of slavery, until God broke the yoke that hung heavy on their necks. The Sabbath was broken. Vessels deemed unclean had to be broken to keep the Israelite people holy before their God. When people sinned, sometimes God’s wrath broke out upon them. Altars to foreign gods were built and then broken down by the few righteous among Israel and Judah’s kings.
Brokenness is everywhere in this fallen world.
Brokenness found its way into our home at 5:30 on a Tuesday evening, when my four-year-old Caleb slipped on the railing of his bed and snapped his humerus clean in two.
We both knew something was really wrong right away, and sobbing in the kitchen as I assessed his injury, he cried out, “Mommy, I’m breaking.”
I was too.
As much as we try to prepare for the hard moments, the moments where our faith proves itself, we are never quite ready to stand and face tragedy head-on when it strikes. We work hard to protect ourselves against it. When it comes, we resist it, we try to run from it.
I’m so thankful that’s not what Christ did.
“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
He broke the bread. And then he allowed his own body to be broken. Why?
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)
In my heart, I knew this, but my mind raced on ahead with concerns, both trivial and serious: What if he needs surgery? How will we bear that? How will we afford it? Will his arm ever be the same? Will we be able to swim at all this summer?
As I drove home down the highway from the doctor, wildflowers in brilliant blue, purple, yellow, and white greeted me from the small strip of grass in the median. And the words of Jesus came to me unbidden: “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matthew 6:30-32).
And Bebo Norman was singing loud on my stereo: “If you offer up your broken cup, you will taste the meaning of this life.”
I wouldn’t choose this brokenness, but Christ did, so that I might be made whole.
I wouldn’t choose a flawed offering to the Lord, but God accepts it, and remakes me into something that displays his glory.
It would be easier, safer from here on out, to bundle Caleb up, to cover him in pads head to toe, to prohibit activity that includes any kind of risk, to protect him from being broken again. He could exist safely in a cocoon of his momma’s making. But he wouldn’t really live. It’s riskier, of course, to keep offering yourself, brave and vulnerable in a world where bones, bodies, hearts can be broken. But it’s through the brokenness, the vulnerability, the fragility of life, that God reveals his power in us.
“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
I don’t really want to carry around death in my body. But if that is how the life of Jesus is revealed in me, so be it. And we can trust God as we journey through this broken world. I don’t know what kind of brokenness you’re facing this morning, but I know this: God never abandons us. I know he doesn’t leave us alone in our brokenness, but instead entered into it with us. And I know that God, who raised Christ from the dead, is able to bring his resurrection power to bear in your life today.
“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.” Hosea 6:1