Broken To Bless
Make me hear joy and gladness be satisfied;Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted and return to You.
Psalm 51: 8, 12-13
Author Henri Nouwen said that only those who are “wounded healers” have the credibility and compassion to enter into another person’s pain and provide genuine comfort. King David would have agreed. He had blown it big time! He’d committed adultery with Bathsheba and conspired to murder her husband, Uriah. In this beautiful and poignant psalm of repentance, David pours out his heart to the Lord, trusting Him to forgive.
The “bones” represent David’s entire life. When his friend Nathan confronted him about his sin, David was shattered(2 Samuel 12:1-12). He immediately confessed what he has done, and he began the process of restoration. First, though, he had to come to grips with the horrible nature of his actions. Once, he had danced before God, because he delighted in Him, but now he felt only sadness and guilt. Once, he had stood strong and bold to kill a giant, but now he felt terribly weak and small. Restoration couldn’t come from self-effort. God had to accomplish it by convincing David of his great mercy and grace.
Those who have been restored from wounds or sins have much to offer others who suffer. Broken and mended, stronger than ever, these people have a perspective on pain that looks beyond books. They have looked into the darkness, and God met them there. Their experience of restoration has earned the credibility to speak truth with authenticity to others who have been broken by sin or loss. Wounded healers have the joy and responsibility to impart what they’ve learned to others, and they keep paying it forward.
Brokenness is not a revival, it is a vital and indispensable step toward it.
Most of us carry around in ourselves wounds and hurts and scars. Life can often bring things that leave them behind as reminders of the painful experiences of life. The apostles certainly knew of these things. Not only did they experience emotional pain but most of them also suffered physical pain as well. Paul describes his own life this way:
Are they [self-proclaimed] servants of Christ?—I am speaking as if I were out of my mind—I am more so [for I exceed them]; with far more labors, with far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, and often in danger of death. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent on the sea; Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine . many times on journeys, [exposed to] danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own countrymen, danger from the Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger on the sea, danger among those posing as believers; in labor and hardship, often unable to sleep, in hunger and thirst, often [driven to] fasting [for lack of food], in cold and exposure [without adequate clothing]. Who is weak, and I do not feel [his] weakness? Who is made to sin, and I am not on fire [with sorrow and concern]? Besides those external things, there is the daily [inescapable] pressure of my concern for all the churches.
2 Corinthians 11:23-29
I don’t think that most of us, thankfully, have such a record as this. We must remember that prior to becoming a Christ follower, Paul had a pretty good life if you read the previous verses describing the time period of his life. But once he became a convert things changed and his life became one of great hardship. Now he could have become bitter and allowed the trials to consume him. He could have resented the fact that Christ was bringing him the way of suffering but he writes in Philippians these words that describes his one desire:
But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him [believing and relying on Him], not having any righteousness of my own derived from [my obedience to] the Law its rituals, but [possessing] that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead.
Out of his suffering, Paul chose to give to the church words of help and encouragement. One might say that he turned the tables on the devil much like Joseph in the Old Testament who said in essence that what had been meant for bad toward him, God had turned it around and now his suffering had put him in position to be a blessing even to those who had been instrumental in causing his suffering.
The secret to overcoming the hurts and pains of life is to use our experiences to benefit others who are facing trials. We can choose to let them control us, keep us in despair, discouragement, and depression or we can ask God to work through our pain and suffering to come alongside others who are going through dark times. Often as we share our stories we become the living witness to the grace and strength of God. Everybody knows how to respond to life. When things are going well, they know how to rejoice, but when life reverses course, they quickly fall into the pit of despair. Our witness as believers is the when life goes wrong, we still have hope for our trust is in God. Somehow in the storm we find peace. Somewhere in the darkness we find hope. And somehow in the most excruciating pain we find true joy. The only way that suffering makes any sense is when it’s turned into ministry.
The psalmist in Psalm 84 tells us that when we “pass through the valley of Baca(Weeping) dig a well so that those who pass after can find refreshing water.” This is the idea of the “wounded healer.” All of us will at some point pass through Baca, but what we do in that season of life is critically important. Will we allow our suffering to consume us, to rob us of our future, and hold us captive in its embrace- or will we dig a well? For almost fifty years now I’ve been on this journey with Jesus. Along the way pain, sorrow, suffering, hurt, betrayal by close friends, disappointments, and grief have been part of my journey. But through those experiences I’ve received the gift of compassion for fellow pilgrims. I’ve used my stories as words of encouragement to those who are struggling. I’ve shared what I’ve learned and hopefully helped some to avoid some of the traps I fell into. I’ve come to understand that being wounded is part of our lot in life, but I’ve decided that if God can somehow use my brokenness to make others whole or in someway use this wounded soldier to fight the fight of faith for the healing of others, then my suffering takes on new meaning and is given new value.
If nothing else, our suffering gives us validation and when we speak words of hope and faith it affirms the truth of those words. So today if you’re passing through the valley of Baca, dig a well. There will be others who pass that way. Remember in your own journey how your soul cried out for healing and refreshing and there was no well? So dig that well for the sake of others and as you throw the dirt from the hole let each shovelful bring you closer to the fountain of healing. Learn that as you work toward the healing of others, you also draw near the Source of Healing- Christ Jesus.
Dr. John Thompson