Poverty, addictions, homelessness, orphaned children etc. are visual reminders of suffering, but the pain of a broken heart often goes unnoticed. A broken heart is hidden in the deepest recesses of our being, hidden and kept a secret from the world. Brokenhearted people walk by us everyday battling feelings of loneliness, rejection, depression and isolation. They are aching for us to notice them and care.
We do anything to avoid suffering--but what would happen if we embraced it? What if we did the counterintuitive thing and walked towards it instead of stepping away from it. I think we'd be better at accepting ourselves, and most certainly, we would be better at attuning to others. Suffering is just as much a part of us as joy. We don't know joy without having first known pain. We don't know compassion without first having experienced what it feels like to be ignored, misunderstood and rejected.
For the ones broken, our greatest gift to them is to encourage them not to run away from pain like a disease. Our friends need to know that we have the strength to stand in their pain with them and not try and soothe away the hurt with comments that are meant to comfort, but bring tremendous pain. In the midst of suffering it is like steel wool to the heart when what they are experiencing isn't attuned to. Those suffering need silence more than anything. Our tears say more than words ever could.
"Everything we live, be it gladness or sadness, joy or pain, health or illness, can all be part of the journey toward the full realization of our humanity" (Henri Nouwen).
Sometimes the thing that reminds us our heart is still beating and alive is brokenness. Allowing pain to be a part of who you are means that your empathy and sense of justice is sharpened. What others miss, you won't because when the hard road is walked out and love is the result, it is multiplied over and over with ever increasing measure, which transfigures us into looking more and more like Jesus, from one degree of glory to another.
The one thing Jesus promises in this life is that “on earth [we] will have many trials and sorrows” (Jn. 16:33). Jesus doesn’t mean small glitches in our lives; he means we will have problems that will shake us so badly that we’re not even sure we will survive.
Guaranteed, our lives will continue to be messy and full of difficult hard realities, but when the storms come (not if the storms come), the only place to find refuge is when our lives are hidden in the rock.
God promised Moses that he “[would] put [him] in a cleft in the rock and cover [him] with [his] hand” (Ex. 33:22). It is in the cleft, that we become invisible to the enemy because the mighty hand of Jesus pulls us into himself so that we are not utterly destroyed.
Jesus makes a provision for our protection. When birds of prey threaten small birds, they fly into the cleft where their enemy cannot get to them. There is no safer place than in the cleft where our lives are hidden in the rock, Jesus Christ.