Rumi, the mystical Muslim poet once wrote that, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
John O Donohue, an Irish priest and poet says it this way, “The beauty that emerges from woundedness is a beauty infused with feeling; a beauty different from the beauty of landscape and the cold perfect form. This is a beauty that has suffered its way through the ache of desolation until the words or music emerged to equal the hunger and desperation at its heart. It must also be said that not all woundedness succeeds in finding its way through to beauty of form. Most woundedness remains hidden, lost inside forgotten silence. Indeed, in every life there is some wound that continues to weep secretly, even after years of attempted healing. Where woundedness can be refined into beauty a wonderful transfiguration takes place.”
We have a sense of that, do we not, that brokenness can lead to strength? That being pushed down one too many times can inspire us to rise up in power. That when we have a sense of loss, or a sense of pain, or have been hurt ; that becomes a place where God can enter into our lives and change things.
Another famous way to look at this was the rich man who came to Jesus and said, “What do I have to do to inherit eternal life? What should I do to be right with God?”
And Jesus asked him what he had done already; and in truth, lots… he went to church, he gave to charity, he followed the religious and political laws… but what else was there?
“Go, and sell all you have, and follow me,” Jesus says simply.
But he cannot. He cannot give up the things that make him strong, and powerful, and capable. And Jesus is saying that if we want to be closer to God than we already are, we need to let go of those things and become weak, become like children, become vulnerable and broken… it is then that we will make room for God.
With The Kids
House of Cards
Have you ever found it really hard to do something and been really frustrated?
There was once this blind man who was in a whole crowd of people, and he wanted to see Jesus… but the crowd would not move… and besides, he was blind… but he kept trying, kept calling out to Jesus, kept asking the people in the crowd to move…. Eventually Jesus heard him, and the crowd helped him, and Jesus healed him so he could see.
It is like the little engine that could… ever hear that story… When we are frustrated with something, when we feel like we can’t do something… we have to keep trying. People will help us, God will help us.
Things Can Only Get Better
Do you know how many songs, movies, and stories revolve around the idea that things can only get better?
People find true love, people become rich because of their hard work, and relationships are restored. In some of them the prince comes swooping in and rescues the princess. In other’s people find out who they really are and live happily ever after….
Do you know why so many stories and songs are about this? Because it is, for the most part, a fantasy!
I am pretty sure that someone was unhappy with the way Job originally ended and tacked on the part about Job getting everything back, and getting back more than he started with…. Because that is how we wished the story ended… that is how we hope all of our stories end… we hope the bullies in high school get caught.
We hope the person who cheats us out of something gets cheated themselves. We hope that we find the perfect guy or girl to make us happy for the rest of our lives. We hope all our hard work pays off…. You get the picture….
And I want you to know there is nothing wrong with that… I hope it all works out for everyone… I really do. But I also think that there are a lot of hiccups along the way for almost everyone. I think that there is pain, and heartache and loss… but the thing is… There has to be a balance, right, and the thing is, you are the one who decides which one influences your life…
Pain can break you. Pain can make you retreat into yourself and never try again… or pain can make you want to try harder. After all, things that are worth something are worth a little sacrifice, right?
I would have much rather the story of our friend Job ended with God coming and telling him, you don’t understand everything, and Job saying, “you know what, you are right.”
Cause that is the life we all lead. We do not get easy answers and fortunes are rarely restored… but that does not mean that the events of our lives do not teach us, do not leave us stronger, do not leave us in a better place to see the world for what it is… and to be more open to God’s grace in the midst of it.
Take Heart in the Struggle
William Sloane Coffin is one of this generation’s best, and most famous preachers. Amongst other things he has been chaplain at Harvard University, and head pastor at one of the largest churches in America, Riverside Baptist in New York.
Some time ago now Coffin’s 24 year old son died in a tragic car accident. He plunged off a bridge and into Boston Harbour during a storm.
One week later Coffin himself preached at Alex’s funeral. His sermon has become one of the most famous funeral sermons of all time. In the middle of it, talking about how most people who come to his house delivering food talk about it having to have been “the will of God” he says,
“God doesn't go around this world with his finger on triggers, his fist around knives, his hands on steering wheels. God is death set against all unnatural deaths…. The one thing that should never be said when someone dies is, “It is the will of God.” Never do we know enough to say that. My own consolation lies in knowing that it was not the will of God that Alex die; that when the waves closed over the sinking car, God’s heart was the first of all our hearts to break.”
I remember when I was just a wee minister… starting out in Quebec at 24 years old. No one in my family had ever died… and the first funeral I had was a girl my own age… she died of brain cancer. I did a really good funeral, everyone was moved by it. And we went on. I did not know what the parents were really feeling at all, I had never been there.
The next year my best friend in Seminary died of a heart attack. More friends, a few grandparents, some failed relationships, and I started to be able to “feel” what other people were feeling. I could empathize, and I could begin to better understand sentiments like William Sloane Coffin’s I could see how God would feel heartbroken at the loss of a single person….
I think this is the beauty that poets talked about… the way that light comes through pain…
Which by the way, is also part of what made Jesus so incredible… he felt what other’s felt; he empathized with those around him to such a degree that they trusted him, they followed him, and they needed him.
“Take heart,” the crowd says to the blind man, “the Master is calling you…”
We all want to hear that, do we not? We all want to be understood, to be loved into life, to be healed….
It is our humanness… the fact that our lives are imperfect… our pain… that makes us the people we are.
It might not be the best news you have heard all week. But how about thinking of it this way… it is that brokenness that allows us to love the way we do. It is our empathy that allows us to be the most like God.
When we accept those broken parts of us as who we are, we become stronger than we ever imagined.
Not only that, but when we realize we are not perfect, that is when God can come into our hearts and give us strength. And that, my friends, is very good news.