We sit straight across from each other in a chic café. And she begins to tell of the grief journey her heart has trod through these past two years. Two years? I have known her for sixteen. How can one woman go through so much and still love God so great? The years have taken her down.
A night intruder rapes eight year old daughter at knife point and sends her back to bed with a threat. “You tell your parents and I’ll be back to murder them.” She told. My friend and her husband were murdered in a different way.
Completely broken and brought down on the inside where one becomes walking dead and has to wake up and step out into the land of the living every single gut-wrenchingly hard day.
And then came the drugs. How does daughter deal with trauma so great? She withdraws into the shadow world of escape. And my friend and her husband learn what it means to really love strong—to really love tough. Tears and fears intertwine as they set the limit and daughter goes completely prodigal.
And then came the death. Dear sister withers away, cancer growing and consuming every life cell. Watching her lose everything—her hair, her muscle, her very life—grief beyond words consumes once again.
And then came the accident. Husband and she walked in the mountains, wanting just a piece of peace. She slipped. Face met rock with no hands to break the impact and she was broken once again. Her gorgeous face shattered, her brain slammed against skull, and they were far from a car. Eventually, rescue came and healing began. But she’ll never be the same, barring a miracle. Surgeries and therapies have helped, but she’ll never be like she was till heaven.
Isn’t this enough, God? She’s still faithful! She has loved you through it all! Please, God! Stop the pain!
And then daughter is diagnosed with cancer and my mother friend drops her life to care for her and her two young children. Two whole years of watching her daughter die slowly, seeing vibrancy melt away, planning memorial service together with daughter who is weeks away from death’s door.
And then death comes calling again last September and takes away daughter’s one last breath. My friend is a mix of relief and grief and fear. Where is her daughter’s soul now? She always rejected Christ. My friend weeps hardest when she tells me she would gladly exchange her life for her daughter’s salvation. Reminds me of another who did so for the whole world. This is devotion. This is complete and to total surrendered love.
So we sit and sip and I see her eyes well up. And she tells me that the hardest comment from friends is “I can’t imagine how you feel,” because this is true. Who can imagine? We want to, those of us who love true. But how can we really know when we have not walked this exact same path? She tells me. She tells me how she feels—how it feels to suffer such great loss.
We both look deep into eyes that have seen much.
I know what she means and she knows I know.
Our souls have traveled different paths with the same theme.
Why would a great and loving God allow—even ordain—such brokenness? Why would a loving God allow evil and accidents and death? Why? Why? Why?
We don’t presume to know all but here’s what we do know, what we have learned through suffering.
We begin to share the positives.
The more we’re broken, the more we come to know God. We are independent creatures, thinking we’re so self-sufficient. Till we’re broken, we can live such a lie. When we’re broken, we realize just how fragile life is—just how fragile we are. To really be a Christian, to really identify with Christ in His brokenness—to really be a blessing to a broken world—we must be broken. Bread cannot feed when the loaf is not broken in pieces. And Jesus gave thanks when He broke the bread the night before He hung on the cross. And he said, “Take and eat. This is my body, broken for you.” Broken for you. Will we be broken for Him? Will we be broken for the hungry?
The more we’re broken, the more we can serve others in their brokenness. My friend’s husband now knows patience and long-suffering and true love as a result of caring for a broken wife. And brokenness draws together and cultivates and bears abundant fruit if directed by God. He serves her. And in so doing, he grows—his spirit expands—he experiences true life—what it means to truly live and give and receive reward. Who walks all the way through this life without knock-downs and tear-downs and painful breaking at times? It doesn’t really matter the cause. It’s the breaking. When we experience the breaking and allow it to do its soul work, we become true friends, true spouses, true relatives to one another because we touch hearts and souls and the sheer, invisible barriers between us dissolve so we can reach out and love true.
There is peace to be found in complete surrender. When we’re broken, we’re vulnerable. When we’re vulnerable, we’re permeable. When we’re permeable, we can let love in full. We can let love in from God and others and that’s when we experience what we’re meant to experience. God loves. People love. We can be healed in greater ways that we ever hoped, because often the healing reaches areas we never knew needed it. We can be so blind to the true state of our souls—of our hearts. Brokenness strips facades. Brokenness shows us ourselves—face to face—and when we’re completely powerless we are ready to receive all the Most Powerful has. It is never God’s will to break down without building up. Our God is the God of resurrections.
Do we like it? My friend and I say, “NO!” Pain is painful. There’s no getting around it.
But pain is bearable when we realize there is purpose—when we realize pain produces something good.
What is life really all about anyway? It’s about knowing God and loving God and glorifying God. It’s about coming to realize how much God loves us and wants to build us up into persons who can bear to hold His light and share it. It’s about being redeemed and redeeming. The world is broken. We are broken. Our loving God cannot leave us this way. He reaches down and pulls up. He resurrects and restores all who will open hands and let Him grab hold.
I look at her hands, soft and aging. She has two rings. On the one hand, her finger is circled with a cross. On the other hand, her finger is circled with a frog. These symbols remind her and they remind me. The cross is the place of willing brokenness for greater purpose. The frog stands for Fully Rely On God. When we’re completely broken and there’s nothing we can do to fix it, we discover the One who can—we go to God and begin to learn that fully relying on the One who is fully reliable is the only way to truly live—the only way to experience true life.
The path to true riches is hard, but worth it.
Take it from two who know—who have survived—who praise our God even more now than before.
We are blessed.
We are truly rich.