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Hope For Brokenness

Pain seems to influence people to either run from their faith, or run to their faith. Several years ago, a very painful season of my life drove me toward God, but in my running, I realized how far I had grown from Him. My first attempts to close this gap were desperate. I wanted to believe and be whole, and I wanted it yesterday. I felt frustrated every time I felt I had made progress in pursuing God more fully, only for Him to reveal to me yet another place I still held Him at a distance in return. I wanted to be done struggling, being pressed, and feeling broken. I still distinctly remember the day that God helped me to understand what I was asking for. I said, “I want to be whole, why won’t You heal me?” and He showed me that what I was really asking for was to no longer need Him.

So instead of allowing me to feel whole, He taught me to seek Him in brokenness and the refinement of the furnace. He showed me who He was through my pain, seasons of difficulty, and through correction. He grew my faith in His love during seasons where it felt like none of my prayers were answered. The outcome of all that struggle is that I have learned to trust Him regardless of how life feels to me, and regardless of the circumstances happening around me. I still wrestle with doubts, but they no longer shake my foundation as I have learned where to turn and what to do when the doubts come. As a result of all He has taught me in the press, my tendency has been to focus on God in His pursuit of His own glory and His refining of my heart.

Previously, I learned the value of the furnace and the power of sanctification. I learned to trust His “No” and His “Not yet” while still believing in His kindness. So when it began to feel like God had started to answer my prayers with “Yes,” I cried. I had been taught by God to know Him and love Him – even when my world didn’t make sense. But what about a God who does pursue His own glory and still finds room for my desires in His story? This was a whole side of God that felt less familiar to me. Let there be no mistake - God has always been kind to me; there is no doubt in my mind about that. But for 3 years there was a hardness to His kindness – the type of hardness that was needed to make me moldable. He broke the rigid, impenetrable and most sinful places of my heart; he used a rake and shovel to turn over soil that had become hostile for growth, and He taught me patience as He buried His seeds down deep and waited for them to take root. There was great beauty in this, and yet at times His kindness felt rough and downright prickly to me.

My conclusions to all I have learned are this: First, if you are in the midst of struggle and suffering, believe me, you can still know His kindness and love. Seek Him wholeheartedly, and you will be blessed to truly know it better than most. When the struggles pile on top of one another, and the press becomes familiar, His grace and mercy become beautifully familiar too. Second, while His hardness is still soft, it is by no means the only dimension of Himself that He reveals to us. I marvel at all that He is, and the limited scope of my ability to imagine His goodness.

If I knew He was good in my pain (and I did), His love has now become more precious than I have words for – and so I will leave you with the psalmist's, whose words almost seem to have been written with my heart in mind -

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;

he heard my cry for mercy.

Because he turned his ear to me,

I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me,

the anguish of the grave came over me;

I was overcome by distress and sorrow.

Then I called on the name of the Lord:

“Lord, save me!”

The Lord is gracious and righteous;

our God is full of compassion.

The Lord protects the unwary;

when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul,

for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,

my eyes from tears,

my feet from stumbling,

that I may walk before the Lord

in the land of the living.

I trusted in the Lord when I said,

“I am greatly afflicted”;

in my alarm I said,

“Everyone is a liar.”

What shall I return to the Lord

for all his goodness to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation

and call on the name of the Lord.

I will fulfill my vows to the Lord

in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord

is the death of his faithful servants.

Truly I am your servant, Lord;

I serve you just as my mother did;

you have freed me from my chains.

I will sacrifice a thank offering to you

and call on the name of the Lord.

I will fulfill my vows to the Lord

in the presence of all his people,

in the courts of the house of the Lord—

in your midst, Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 116


Beth Claes

ARH Staff Contributor

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