Burning pain seized my entire body.
Heat radiated from my hands like a gas stove emitting flames. For three weeks, I had used my arms and hands to transfer my body from chair to toilet, to wheelchair, to bed, and they just weren’t havin’ it anymore. This morning I couldn’t even lift a small plastic cup. The pain, oh the pain! And I can’t use my feet because my heels feel like they are pierced with corkscrews. So, to the ER we go!
Dr. Leather did my intake report then stepped out of the room to cry the tears she held back while I answered her questions. I wanted to go to the nurse’s station to console her, but I couldn’t move. She saw my brokenness. I could use neither my hands nor my feet.
Every moment, by moment, by moment, was excruciating. Every second was a second too long to endure. I sat in a chair by my bedroom window for two long months and wept. My husband Mark sat beside me drying my tears. He fed me, read to me, cried with me, sang with me, emptied my commode, and held all my pieces together. He hardly left my side.
All of us are broken. We come from broken families with broken hearts, and we grieve broken dreams. We are broken-up with, and have breakdowns. We barely break even, or are flat broke. Our bones and our spirits break. Our houses get broken into, and our skin breaks out. We are broken vessels, with a broken compass, and no clear direction. We wonder when we will have a break-through so we can apply the brakes to our brokenness. My brake system warning light has been on for years. I need some new brake pads, I reason. But nothing completely fixes my brokenness.
True story: One day, long, long ago, in a faraway land called Nazareth, clouds broke apart to make way for the angel Gabriel to deliver a message to an unsuspecting humble soul, who was told she would carry in her womb, a child who would one day heal our wounds (Luke 1:26-38). If I were Mary, I probably would have had a major breakdown from the pressure. But thankfully, she chose to look up, endure the scorn of the people, and raise the boy who would eventually became the Savior of our broken world.
Jesus broke down cultural barriers between the Jews and Gentiles. He broke stereotypes about who Kings are and the way they should live their lives, and lead their people. Jesus broke Pharisaical rules and their ridiculous meticulous laws. He broke down barriers with the Pharisees by inviting himself over for dinner. Jesus broke the ranks and did things in a less regimented, more loving way. Jesus walked the broken terrain, breaking in his sandals to show his followers a new way. He hung out with “sinners” and with those whose brokenness was apparent. Jesus broke walls down between people, speaking of mercy, forgiveness, and love. He broke the chains that bound us to sin. Jesus miraculously healed broken bodies and minds. He broke down and wept in grief over the death of his dear friend Lazarus. Jesus broke out the wine and broke bread with his disciples. He was heartbroken by the betrayal of his friend and disciple Judas. Jesus broke down in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking his Father if there was another way. Jesus was broken down publicly – mocked, beaten, spit upon, flogged, stripped naked, struck on the head repeatedly with a crown of thorns on his head, and his naked body was hammered with spikes to logs of wood, then he was put on public display for all to see. There he died, temporarily. The curtain of the temple tore in two, the earth quaked, tombs broke open, and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life! (Mt. 27:51-53) The hard hearts of the centurion and those guarding Jesus broke in despair when they realized, “Surely, he was the Son of God!” (Mt. 27:54) Jesus was buried, breaking the hearts of his family, friends, and followers.
Jesus BROKE out of the tomb, overcoming death to heal our wounds!
Jesus knows brokenness. He knows our brokenness. He knows our brokenness does not have to be the end of our stories. Life does not end during seasons of brokenness, but we are changed. We can find refuge in The One who broke himself so we could be healed. We can use our pain to draw closer to him and others. There are gifts in our suffering – gifts of compassion, humility, understanding, patience, endurance, character, and hope (Ro. 5:3-5). These gifts can be used to help heal others. We tap into these gifts when we look beyond doubt and see beyond ourselves and to the needs of others.
Jesus had the power to, but did not stop the Roman soldiers and others from physically breaking him down. He didn’t stop them because he knew the victory was in the breaking; the victory was beyond what was physically seen. Reason lies beyond the pain, beyond this life. We cannot see what God sees – but one day we will if we entrust our broken lives to him. You are not alone. Look to him for healing. Pain draws us closer to him if we let it. There is an ‘unseen to the human eye’ reason for our suffering. We will understand one day – that endless joyful day of eternity, beyond our final day on earth. There is nothing broken in heaven. We will be fully healed. There will be no more tears… and thank you, God, there will be no more pain! (Rev. 21:4)