God Gives Strength In The Broken Places
By Bonnie Sala
Guidelines For Living
To all who mourn in Israel he will give: Beauty for ashes; Joy instead of mourning; Praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3, Living Bible
Ernest Hemingway, wrote, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” In this, Hemmingway was right. Ours is an imperfect, broken world. You discover your spouse has been unfaithful to you for years. A doctor breaks the news that you have inoperable cancer and will lose your leg. Your son is arrested for drunk driving. Or, the promotion that you deserved went to someone less qualified.
Everyone is broken eventually, but only some mend stronger because of it. “Out of the presses of pain” wrote A. B. Simpson, “Come the soul’s best wine.” When the remarkable Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, became disabled from a fall, she spent the next 20 years of her life confined to bed. Instead of crying out in anger, she ran to Jesus for strength and comfort. Those years which she spent immobile were some of her best as she wrote, counseled the unending stream of people who came to her, and prayed for India and the world. “Some get strong in the broken places,” said Hemingway.
When prolonged sickness slowly took the life of her husband, Lettie Burd Cowman wrote a daily devotional based on her hardships and experiences of fellowship with God during this painful time. Her little book, Streams in the Desert, was so loved by Chang Kai Shek, the Chinese leader, that both this book and the Bible were placed in his casket at his death. Yes, some get strong in the broken places.
Sometimes God allows the breaking which eventually produces something of great value, having been in the fire, having sustained the blows of life, having grown strong in the broken places, as Hemingway put it.
Joni Eareckson Tada was just 17 years old when a diving accident left her paralyzed from the shoulders down. She went on to become a spokesperson on disability and founded Joni and Friends, a global ministry to the disabled community. “My wheelchair was the key to seeing all this happen—especially since God’s power always shows up best in weakness. So here I sit … glad that I have not been healed on the outside, but glad that I have been healed on the inside. Healed from my own self-centered wants and wishes,” she wrote. Joni is strong even in the places that remain broken until heaven.
Who said that life is fair or just? When Hemingway felt devastated by the world’s breaking, as he termed it, he ended his life in suicide. When Lettie Burd Cowman, Amy Carmichael and Joni Eareckson Tada felt the crushing, unexpected blows of life, they turned to God and found solace and strength. To those who suffer, God promised “Beauty for ashes; Joy instead of mourning; Praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory” (Isaiah 61:3, Living Bible).
You can be certain of one thing. Nothing that happens to you as God’s child can happen apart from His knowledge and His will, and nothing which life throws at you can carry you beyond His grace and care. God doesn’t fix everything in the here and now, but He gives grace for everything, and that makes the difference which produces strength in the broken place.
In the Book of Genesis, when Jacob ran for his life from his angry brother, Esau, Jacob turned to the Lord. His encounter was characterized by physically wrestling with the Angel of the Lord. From that point on, he walked with a limp—the sign of his broken body and spirit, but God gave him a new name, Israel, and used him to give birth to a nation (Genesis 32).
Never forget that following the brokenness of an imperfect world, God gives strength in the broken place.