by Rob Tims
With four kids (11, 10, 2 and 1), there’s no shortage of toys, books, and games in our home. Therefore, there’s ample opportunity for things to break. This morning, it was a cereal bowl in the sink (I look forward to repairing the disposal again). Earlier, it was a part of a “rainbow loom.” Before that, a doll got a lazy eye.
Crushed feelings soon follow broken things. “How can I make this bracelet without that loom?!” “Mom, that doll is creeping me out.” Depending on what and how many objects break, this cycle can result in parents with broken spirits.
We typically discard broken things without much thought. It’s rare that an object, having been ripped, cracked, tattered, or torn, can regain its previous function. But when God breaks a human being, He does so as an act of grace. Brokenness is a divine mechanism to transform us into the image of Christ.
David’s prayer in Psalm 13 reflects this beautifully:
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. 5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
The overall impression of David’s prayer is that while God may seem very absent in trying times, He’s actually profoundly at work. It’s as if the fact that God seems like He’s not at work is proof that He is. As David’s prayer shows, this is very difficult to accept in the moment of one’s brokenness. But ironically, David is seeking God. He’s pursuing the very God he feels has abandoned him in his suffering, which implies that, deep down, David knows God is very much at work in this crushing moment. This means that seeking God in such moments is a very powerful means by which we become whole people, even while we’re broken.
God is at work in our brokenness, and seeking God can be the means by which we realize how we are being made whole through the pain. We don’t have to like it. Becoming whole through brokenness is not about the quality of your faith, but about the object of your faith. And if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. God will determine at a specific point and time to give you more character … to make you a more complete person. And He will do this by breaking you, because brokenness is a crucial part of becoming whole.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.