Recently, I read two books on the conjunction of brokenness and blessedness. First, Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way: a daring path into the abundant life. She points out that blessings can be found within our brokenness. Everyone eventually suffers pain in life.
Paul admonishes Christians to rejoice in pain, sorrow, disappointment. James 1:2-4 2 Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The pain we experience brings new joys as we learn and gain strength. Ann uses an Hasidic rabbi’s illustration: you cannot have more water in a bottle until you pour some out. Likewise with our lives, the more we pour out of ourselves, the more life we will experience. She writes, “Love is not always agreement with someone, but it is always sacrifice for someone.”
Psalm 51:17 A broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” God will help us to find solace and even joy in our pain.
The second book is Finding God’s Blessings in Brokenness by Charles R. Stanley. Dr. Stanley says right from the start, everything God touches in our lives is done out of love. God affects our lives to help us change, grow, mature in spirit, and to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit–all because He wants the best for us. God wants to break us from our love of self to free us to love God, thus loving others more than oneself. He wants us to recognize anything we have of value comes from God. God promises to bless us and make us a blessing if we are obedient to Him. But first we have to be broken to the point of needing God’s help more than anything else. Then we begin to receive the blessings and can thank God for the trial He put us through.
While contemplating these books, I realized negative experiences happen in my life which exemplify God’s love for us, illustrating the blessing of brokenness. A verse I cling to, and one you have heard me mention repeatedly, is Romans 8:28 “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.”
It was lunchtime and I was headed out to pick up my grandson. Being hungry, and knowing he would be hungry, I washed a large bunch of grapes, placed them in a bowl, and took them to the car. My dog Toby also came along on this trip. Upon arriving, I got out of my car to speak to my grandson’s older brother. When I returned to the car, Toby had eaten all the grapes! Just recently, I heard that grapes and raisins are poison to dogs, affecting their kidneys and possibly bringing death.
I texted my far-away nephew who is a vet. He said I must get him to vomit. I didn’t have the necessary products and with my vet’s office closed, I decided to endure the expense of the Emergency Animal Clinic and save my dog. When the technician reappeared, she said, “Along with the huge amount of grapes that came out, was a Chick-Fil-A sauce package.” A few days previous, I had purchased their grilled chicken wrap with yummy green sauce for my lunch. I always eat half the sandwich and save the other half for another day. I keep a box in my backseat for hiding things from a lurker. I stuffed the wrap in there thinking Toby could not get to the bottom. Well, he did, as I already knew, but I didn’t realize the entire package of the yummy green sauce was missing as well. If we had not forced him to vomit, that package had sat inside him for three days. It could have blocked some passageway in his system and required surgery costing much more than the expense of a forced vomit and been far more upsetting and painful for Toby.
A favorite saying of mine: “When God puts a tear in your eye, it’s because He wants to place a rainbow in your heart.”