"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted," sings the psalmist in Psalm chapter 34, verse 18.
The world is marred with sadness. I'm overwhelmed by news of corrupt governments, systemic injustice, innocent lives cruelly taken away by sexual violence, and on top of all this, living in the uncertainty of a very contagious and rapidly changing virus called COVID-19.
Yet in the midst of suffering and sadness, God promises us that He's always - ALWAYS! - close to the broken-hearted. It's interesting that the Bible seems to emphasise this important and comforting truth: You will find God when you are sad.
Many found Jesus in their brokenness
I think of the numerous stories recounted about how Jesus spent a lot of His time with the lost, the broken, and the lonely. It's in their most desperate moments where they encountered God. The story of the bleeding woman comes to mind. For 12 years she carried this disease which made her unclean and excluded from society. She was desperate for healing and to be a part of the Jewish community again. She reached out… and found Jesus.
I think of the synagogue leader, Jairus, who was about to lose his beloved daughter. He was on the precipice of death and loss, but it was in that desperate moment he found Jesus.
I wonder if Mary, too, found Jesus when she was wrestling through uncertainty and anxiety of becoming a wife soon. A young girl who's about to marry Joseph, maybe she had doubts about what the future might hold for them. Maybe in that lonely night, the angel of the Lord visited her and brought her Good News.
We are not strangers to brokenness. We were all born into a broken, sinful world, and we've learned to live with brokenness; some of us hide it better than others but we know that this slow fever will eventually erode our souls.
Jesus meets us at the Cross
The Cross has always been the central image in the Bible. It is the Cross that we're invited to reflect on. The Lord of the Heavens and Earth hung naked on the Cross, broken and bruised. The Cross draws us in because it's the symbol of our reality - 'sin'. "The wages of sin is death" says Paul in Romans chapter 6, verse 23… "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Only the Cross symbolically holds the tension of brokenness and resurrection, life and death, misery and hope. Jesus' death was not for Him but for us. As He hung on the Cross on that Good Friday, He experienced the pain, suffering and brokenness that you carry today. He's inviting us to come to the Cross because He wants to carry your burden and transform it into good.
There is good in being broken-hearted
In a strange twist, the Son of Man did rise from the dead three days later, which changed the course of history forever.
If we gave up on Saturday, we'd never see the glorious resurrection of Jesus on Sunday. Likewise, if we gave up today, we'd never get to see the transformation in our lives tomorrow, as Romans chapter 8, verse 28 tells us, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Today you may have experienced something traumatic that changed the course of your life. Tomorrow you may be living through the despair of that event. But the day after may be a glorious resurrection. Jesus' scars remained after His resurrection, and likewise, we will still carry the scars of our past hurt and traumas, but God is the only one who can take something bad and turn it into good.
Perhaps in your darkest days you've found God. Perhaps in your years of prolonged suffering you've forged an intimate relationship with Him that not even your closest friends would understand. I've heard many stories of Christians who went through a terrible ordeal, such as losing a loved one, being paralysed, or being abandoned. What I'm most inspired by is their response to a commonly asked question:
"If you could turn back time and change that event so it never happens to you, would you do it?"
Their response? "No, I wouldn’t change a thing."
It takes a lot of courage and a high level of maturity to look back in your life and accept the good that came out of your suffering. Perhaps in all their years of struggle, they were hoping for a particular outcome but instead they've found God who was, and always will be, close to the broken-hearted.
Rachel is a pastor, preacher and writer. Based in Sydney, she’s a fan of literature, sport and the arts. Check out her website rachellhli.wordpress.com