I think it was Ruth Graham who wrote, “…there is a broken heart in every pew.”
Many years down the road, with many a “breaking-experience” under my belt, I can say a healthy amen.
We in The Church are “a building” built from broken things.
I recall when I was the editor of my women’s church newsletter.
I went to our Women’s Director purposing a series on suffering. I offered a couple of samples topics and suggested the book of Jeremiah as our ongoing theme. Her response, “We don’t want to hear about these things. Write about happy things.”
I thought at the time, “Seriously?”
I personally knew of many people in our church that were going through a very difficult time.
There were single moms, struggling to get to the next payday, wondering how they would feed their kids. Divorced dads, hemorrhaging internally, but wearing stoic smiles. People out of work wondering only two things—where and when? Folks dealing with catastrophic illnesses, for themselves, or their families. Marriages that were being held together with scotch tape, and half-hearted, “why-do-we-even-bother” prayers.
Could she not see? Did she not hear? Or, was it just the same old coldness of heart that chooses to walk by the bleeding and broken, choosing “the other side of the road” like Jesus related in the parable of The Good Samaritan.
Today, thirty years later—I still do not understand it.
How can people who meet together to sing about loving the Lord, listen intently to all those fine-sounding-sermons about reaching the lost, but then pass the lost, messy, and broken—looking right through them?
Perhaps it’s going through a few breakings myself. Knowing firsthand, the pain and confusion; the helplessness; the dark and intense days suffering brings.
And yes, I know there are “professional victims” in our Churches. Those who seek a continual attention-feast every time you encounter them. (Yes, I know.) I have also encountered the drama-queens (and kings) who suck all the emotional oxygen from the room. Every church has these folks.
The trick, as I see it, is to not let their choices blind you to the genuine suffering that is all around us.
We are buildings filled with the broken, and yes, sometimes messy ones. People whose lives are in crisis and need our compassion and tenderness.
Our simple and decent caring.
That is what I am pleading for here—hearts that care for the wounded and brokenhearted, rather than walling ourselves off behind aloof and superior stone walls.
Jesus calls each of us to reach for His basin and towel.
My bible says no one is exempt:
Does He not call you, too?
Jesus was always tender with broken hearts—asking what He could do.
Are we, not all called by Him, to do the same?
Is not the last word… His words to us?
“…YOU …do as I have done for you.”
Into a shop, I chanced to go
Seeking vessels high and low
When in a box I casually spied
A broken vessel—cast aside
At first glance, I thought I’d take
These broken pieces for to make
A vessel “new” from broken things
To carry songs and glad tidings
But no! My Master bid me take
This broken vessel, for His sake
And look again… “This jar was you…
Before My loving grace you knew!”
“I came into this world so dark
Received the nails that made their marks,
Shattered and broken, just like YOU;
To bring to wholeness once again,
To piece and polish, glue and mend…”
“Ahhhhhhhhhh, now I see!” I answered Him.
“The centerpiece for which I search,
To show, display, inside the Church,
Is BROKEN—like so many more,
That wait for us outside these doors.”
Why are we oh so slow to learn?
Why don’t we see that what man spurns,
Is just the ONE that God will use?
He chooses MOST what we refuse!
I thank you LORD for taking me
A BROKEN THING—that all could see,
Had little use… not much could be…
Reclaimed… restored… for Your glory!