Let Brokenness Be A Catalyst
As I watch the news, I’m once again, surprised by the brokenness of this world. I see rioters breaking businesses and glass and bodies, and harming neighborhoods and the real lives of normal people who are just trying to do the best they can, and the brokenness can be overwhelming. I watch people war with words over positions and policies. Spewing hatred. I wonder, in all this brokenness, do all these people know that it wasn’t meant to be this way? Do they realize that Jesus came for redemption and restoration?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way, it’s that everyone is surprised by the brokenness and trials of life when it happens to them.
Nobody expects it.
Nobody raises their hands to sign up for a child to rebel, a husband to walk out, or to have someone take advantage of them. Kids don’t ask to be brought into the world and handed to unfit parents. We never imagine that a fellow congregant will lie to your face or stab you in the back.
No, we never ask for the unthinkable, and are always blindsided by it.
Eugene Peterson, in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction calls the pain of unexpected misery
“the painful awakening to the no-longer-avoidable reality that we have been lied to. The world, in fact, is not as it had been represented to us. Things are not all right as they are, and they are not getting any better.”
“Men are set against each other. Women are at each other’s throats. We are taught rivalry from the womb. The world is restless, always spoiling for a fight. No one seems to know how to live in healthy relationships. We persist in turning every community into a sect, every enterprise into a war. ..Things are not all right as they are, and they are not getting any better. We’ve been told the lie ever since we can remember: human beings are basically nice and good. Everyone is born equal and innocent and self-sufficient. The world is a pleasant, harmless place. We are born free. If we are in chains now, it is someone’s fault, and we can correct it with just a little more intelligence or effort or time.
How can we keep on believing this after so many centuries of evidence to the contrary is difficult to comprehend, but nothing we do and nothing anyone else does to us seems to disenchant us from the spell of the lie. We keep expecting things to get better somehow…Convinced by the lie that what we are experiencing is unnatural, an exception, we devise ways to escape the influence of what other people do to us by getting away…
Christian consciousness begins in the painful realization that what we had assumed was the truth is in fact a lie…Rescue me from the person who tells me of life and omits Christ, who is wise in the ways of the world and ignores the movement of the Spirit.”
Though this world is tough, Christians throughout the centuries have not only lived through unimaginable trials, they’ve grown in spiritual maturity through them by knowing the character of God and the big picture truth that God is completely in control and hasn’t surrendered His sovereignty to anyone or any thing for one second.
So no matter what life in a fallen world brings, He wants us to know Him more and serve His people faithfully.
What they meant for evil, God intends for good.
What good is it though?
Your trial may equip you to help and serve others in compassionate ways because someone has done evil towards you.
What hurt me, can be a tool that equips me help other people.
I have a friend who was sexually abused. It’s a demon she’ll wrestle with her whole life but it doesn’t define or control her. It has been a catalyst though, and she is truly one of the most encouraging, accepting, place-making women I know.
Another friend who comes to mind has a child who has multiple serious health issues. Her life isn’t easy, but her compassion for the sick and suffering is unmatched.
The failings of others may be a catalysts for serving.
Sometimes people fail, plain and simple. People drop the ball, make poor choices, abandon relationships, or neglect their duties. You can be a helper to those hurt in the fallout.
- Is that younger woman seeking your counsel because her own mother has a bad habit of flying off the handle and using emotional manipulation?
- Are people finding friendship and welcome in your home simply because others chose prejudice or indifference?
- Is that newlywed seeking marital advice because her own family tree is fractured and she’s never seen generational continuity lived out in any practical ways?
- Are you able to disciple new believers because others are too busy, self absorbed, or uninterested?
- Do you have ministry opportunities because people know you to be sweet instead of the sour? Understanding rather than judgmental or critical? Faithful instead of flighty?
This world is broken, to be sure, but just like a broken window, the break includes shards of glass that cut and hurt but also an new opening, an inlet for fresh air to blow through and re-invigorate.
Could it be that you are the fresh air in someone else’s smashed window? You can say, Here, friend, let me help you pick up the pieces. Be careful you don’t cut yourself on this piece. Oh, look at the view from here. Did you notice how much clearer the view is without the clouded glass? See all the flowers?
I’ve seen God faithfully provide for His hurting sheep by using everyday, ordinary people who are committed to Him.
When parents are uninvolved or harmful, when leaders aren’t what they should be, when authorities are corrupt or complacent, God sends along someone who is in tune with His Spirit and willing to be used.
God assigns a compassionate college student here, or a sweet older lady there. He provides a humble mentor here or an on-fire friend there.
As you look around at the unexpected aspects of your life, where can you see God leading you to love and serve others and smooth the way for the next generation of Christ’s disciples? Where can you be used to heal wounds and encourage others where others have abandoned their duty?
There is so much brokenness and so much work to be done.
Where can you start?
Start where God has you.
- Who is God bringing to your door?
- What is your sphere of influence?
- Who is God putting on your heart and mind?
- Who has been overlooked? Mistreated?
- Who comes to you for help?
- What opportunities does God drop in your lap?
- What resources are available to you?
- Who needs your kindness?
- Who seems like they are struggling?
Reach out. Send a text. Be a friend. Invite them in. Show by your good works, and tell them about your Friend who never disappoints and who loves them with a never-ending, steadfast love.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18