"We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
1 John 4:16 (NAS)
I am currently reading a book by Jim Daley, president of Focus on the Family, "Stronger." Jim includes short stories in this book about different tragedies that various individuals have experienced. I would recommend this book to anyone that has experienced pain in their life that is diffcult to overcome.
Jim speaks of three responses to pain-beaten, bitter, and broken. When we are beaten we are in a sense lifeless and useless. We're like clay that dissolves to the touch. When we are bitter we become hard and inflexible. But when we are broken we are shattered into pieces, only needing the potter to re-shape our strength into something beautiful and useful to him. He gains this insight from scripture:
1-2 God told Jeremiah, "Up on your feet! Go to the potter's house. When you get there, I'll tell you what I have to say." 3-4So I went to the potter's house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot. 5-10Then God's Message came to me: "Can't I do just as this potter does, people of Israel?" God's Decree! "Watch this potter. In the same way that this potter works his clay, I work on you, people of Israel. At any moment I may decide to pull up a people or a country by the roots and get rid of them. But if they repent of their wicked lives, I will think twice and start over with them. At another time I might decide to plant a people or country, but if they don't cooperate and won't listen to me, I will think again and give up on the plans I had for them.
Staying in a broken state is difficult. Daily hurts come our way, what do we do, how do we respond?
This past weekend I spent Saturday, and then again Sunday with my family, visiting a group of homeless people. It wasn't the whole day-but enough dialogue with two specific young girls to be very troubled when I left. You see, we met them on Saturday and their story was so concerning that I asked my husband to go back down there on Sunday to bring a few items they requested. I wanted to "SHOW" them that I cared and that my intentions were real. The disturbing thing was their age first of all-the first girl, Emily was young-19 or 20? She is tough. She had a few things to say to me about nobody caring about her and that she couldn't trust anyone..except other homeless people. The other girl was foreign, Tatiana. She looked even younger. She was soft spoken, cold, and seemed lifeless. Each of these girls have been hurt, one reacted with bitterness and the other is beaten. When we are in this state, we cannot receive love. The only way to receive love is to be vulnerable, how are these young girls ever going to open themselves up and become vulnerable? Even at their young age, something desperate has happened to cause them to be living on the streets, deciding society has nothing to offer them.
The only way back for any of us is the potter Jeremiah speaks of. The strange thing of us being the clay in the potter's hand, is the fact that we have to put ourselves there. Tragedy and hurt happen to all of us at some point. How do we respond? With bitterness, like Emily? Or defeat like Tatiana? Do we decide to hate and grow bitter or just shut down? God would ask us to become broken- HE is the fixer, He knows how to put the broken pieces of our heart back together, bringing healing and forgiveness. But, we must lose our life, surrender to the brokenness HE calls us to.