Broken hearts are never fun. Broken bones, either. Sometimes brokenness affects your life forever. Broken hearts might leave us a little older, a little wiser, a little more guarded. Broken bones might leave us a little less mobility, a little more stiffness. Break your leg, and chances are you will have some type of limp. Brokenness just changes you.
Spiritually speaking, there is something sacred about brokenness. Take the story of Jacob when he wrestled with the angel of the Lord before crossing the Jabbok River. All alone, they wrestled throughout the night, until finally the angel “touched the socket of Jacob’s hip until his hip was wrenched” (Genesis 32:25).
Eventually, the struggle ended, but when the sun rose and Jacob went on his way, he walked with a limp. He literally walked differently! AND his name changed. He went from being called Jacob to being called Israel, which means “he struggles with God.” Jacob had a moment of brokenness that forever changed him – his name, his walk, probably his faith.
We also see this image of brokenness in the Gospels: when Jesus breaks the two loaves before feeding the five thousand, when He breaks bread with His disciples at the Last Supper as a foreshadow of things to come, when His own physical body is broken at His crucifixion and death, paying the penalty for our sin in order to reconcile us to the Father.
Maybe you, too, feel broken. Maybe you are hurting, your heart is breaking, your spiritual legs are being broken. Maybe you feel like your life is falling apart, and you just don’t understand why or where God is in all the mess. Maybe you are having your own wrestling match with God.
Can I be honest with you? I kind of feel like that right now, too. I had a moment of weakness where I questioned where God’s hand was in a specific situation.
My family has experienced some tremendous heartaches this year that have just about broken me. I’ll spare you the details – they don’t really matter. What does matter is that my heart literally broke, still breaks, about circumstances that were completely out of my control, a burden the Lord has chosen for my family to endure.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I had my own night wrestling with God. “Why, Lord? What have we done to deserve this trauma? Why did it have to be my children affected?” I threw a spiritual hissy-fit. But, boy, has my walk changed!
For maybe the first time in my whole life, I understand what it means to truly trust God, to know that His plan is good, to acknowledge His ways are perfect. To see His strength pushing me forward in my season of weakness.
By holding to these truths in my brokenness, God literally broke my spiritual legs in order to heal them and make them stronger, firmer, more grounded. I can look evil in the face, and know that God has a plan. My walk has changed! My outlook on God’s sovereignty is secure! I can rest in the assurance that He is here, that He has ordered EVERY step I take, every circumstance I face, every heartache that I experience.
Not only does He have full control in my situation, but He does in yours as well. He has a plan. Even if we don’t like it, even if we don’t agree with it, He WILL one day work everything out to bring glory and honor to His name.
Sometimes He breaks us to remind us who’s in charge; sometimes He breaks us to make our faith stronger; sometime He breaks us so we can one day comfort others who will experience some of the same things. But always, always, always, He uses our brokenness to make something truly beautiful. He weaves a graceful tapestry that points others to Him.
I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my then-six-year-old daughter. While we were out running errands one day, she stumbled upon a beautiful mosaic on a garden plaque. “Mommy, isn’t it awesome how you can take something that’s been broken all to pieces and use it to make such a beautiful piece of art!!” Why, yes. Yes, it is. A bunch of broken bits and fragments of glass, glued together to make something new, a truly beautiful gift, a one of a kind piece of art that is meant to be shared and enjoyed by others.
If you feel like your life right now has been “broken all to pieces,” in the words of my daughter, may you rest in the assurance that all of the heartbreak, all of the sleepless nights, will one day be worth it! One day, they will paint a beautiful picture of Christ’s redemption and love. One day, they will tell a story of a Savior whose ways are perfect, and who upholds his children when their legs are too broken to stand on their own. My prayer for you is that you, too, can see the beauty in your brokenness, the ministry that might come out of your misery, and that you truly learn to trust God’s sovereignty in your situation.