Broken, Broken, Healing, Whole

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March 1, 2014 by J. Truett Glen

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The way of man is the way of brokenness. The way of a Christian is the way of brokenness for our brokenness. Psalm 42 paints a picture of brokenness for us. The psalmist recognizes his inability, and deep need. He feels the absence of God in his life and longs for him. All of us carry within us the brokenness of sin. We have walked away from a right relation with our creator and share in the separation experienced by Adam and Eve. This is one sort of brokenness. This sort of brokenness plays out in selfish desire, lust, cruelty, arrogance, apathy, fear, bitterness, hatred, and the desire to be our own god. Thankfully, we are not left unattended and untouched in our separate state. We are called out to. Creation has been calling out since the beginning. The depth of beauty and meaningfulness found in creation has been speaking to us ever since our physical eyes were opened.  Yet we plugged our ears and covered our eyes. We sought something to control, so as not to hear the voice calling us to submit and be free. Thankfully, God did not leave us in our suppressing ways. He confronted us again, and again. He laid his hand on our shoulder and shook us. He spoke loudly in our ears, and hurt us so that we might recognize our cocoon of death. We awaken and know our brokenness. It disturbs us and points us outward, to where our help comes from. The salve for our ears and eyes is present in the gift. Our ability to hear is carried in the whisper that comes to our ears.

The psalmist knows his brokenness, and he is broken over what he sees. He calls out because he has eyes to see:

5Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;                                             All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. (Psalm 42:5-7)

The psalmist can hear the voice of God in the waterfalls now. The psalmist can hear God’s merciful presence in the sound of the waterfalls and the power of the waves that wash over him. The Christian, along with the psalmist, has experienced two sorts of brokenness. The Christian, along with the psalmist, can be healed by the deep presence of God calling out to the deep knowledge of who we are, and who we should be. It’s a shame that divinely oriented language is co-opted by our deceptive hearts. Adele’s song “Rolling in the Deep” pretends to know something of what deep is, but she only speaks out of one state of brokenness:

The scars of your love remind me of us
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
I can’t help feeling
We could have had it all
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it, to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

Adele equates deep with human self-love. She, like many of us, has driven her gaze inward, and set up camp there. And in this state of being the eyes are always set on how we might bring happiness to ourselves, while scorning those that make this striving difficult. We find tolerance for those that bring no burden to our door. We accept the accountability of those that challenge us not. This is not the “deep” of the psalmist. This is brokenness without brokenness. Healing cannot come when the broken do not see their brokenness. Jesus pronounced his intentions toward the broken as he quoted Isaiah the prophet:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19, NASB)

There is a healing hand waiting for the broken, but there are forces that seek to hide our eyes. Jesus’s voice pierces through the shadows and transforms our pain into a testimony of his grace. Our attention is pointed outward to the snake upon a staff, and we are healed. In his healing hands we are made whole. Like the lame man we are told to take up our mat and walk, and to refrain from sinning further. For our healing happens daily and our wholeness is completed in the past that plays into the future. Wholeness is within us, and is working its way out through our thoughts and actions. One day the outer will be made new and the wholeness within will have completed its work in us. In the meantime, let us walk as those who are broken upon broken; who have tasted healing through the wholeness we have been given and that is to come.

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