Life on this earth is a great many things, but “easy” isn’t one of them. Amidst the many wonders and great beauties of the world, we’ve all got to admit that life is also a deep struggle, a striving, a desperate not-quite-right-ness that’s been plaguing us since that infamous day in the garden.
I don’t think I’m giving you any new news here; life is hard. It wounds us early and continues to break each of us in different ways the longer we live.
You don’t need a horrific Anne Frank or Corrie Ten Boom experience to understand this. Sometimes the most common or outwardly normal-looking circumstances a person experiences can be the most hurtful and heartbreaking:
An empty crib in a nursery that’s used for storage instead of dreams.
An elderly man sitting alone at a coffee shop.
A middle-aged single woman, who never planned to end up alone.
A grandmother’s silent phone.
A high school senior, scanning the crowds at his football game for a father he knows he won’t find.
A Broken World: Common Pain, Individual Hurts
Personal pain can’t really be quantified or compared to someone else’s.
We all encounter the world’s brokenness in different ways. It’s common because we all experience it, but it’s unique because our pain is intimate and real to us as individuals.
Lots of people have lost their grandmothers. But no one has felt the pain of losing MY grandmother. Her relationship with me was unique to the two of us, and to a certain extent, no one can understand what I lost when I lost her. In the same way, I can relate to my friend Kate, who lost her own dear grandmother the same year, but I cannot truly know her particular grief the way she knows it.
We must each grapple with brokenness in our own way and through our individual circumstances. My hurts might not be yours, but one thing is certain – we’re all sure to come face-to-face with the pain of this broken world.
A Broken World – There Isn’t Another One To Live In
You can’t live long without facing pain, and you can’t study the Bible without quickly realizing that suffering is a huge part of life.
I sat close to my friend on her dorm bed, listening. I was in my second year of college at Ethnos 360 Bible Institute, and I’d already realized that some passages in the Bible feel like a real downer at first glance.
“I’m tired of life being hard, and hearing about how it’s just going to keep being hard”, she said. Her eyes filled with tears that spoke of frustration and disappointment.
“Everything we’re studying is about suffering. This world just sucks!”
“Yea, it really does”, I responded.
We weren’t feeling all the “joy in spite of suffering” stuff yet. We were just grappling with the reality that life is tough. We were growing up and understanding that we weren’t going to get to a place in life where all our problems were solved and life was perfect. It was probably just gonna get harder in a lot of ways, actually.
This world is the opposite of utopia, but it’s the one we’ve got.
A Broken World: God’s People Have It Rough
To make things worse, on top of having to deal with the regular difficulties of life, the Bible promises a hard life for those who want to follow Jesus.
We have to wrestle with being pilgrims and strangers here on this earth while our real home is in heaven, the fact that the world and it’s philosophies hates the truth we stake our lives on, and at times, blatant persecution.
We also know that God specifically tailors suffering for his children to grow them and teach them about His love (Hebrews 12:1-11). It’s a bizarre and beautiful paradox that ends in a deeper friendship with Him, but some of our days on this earth just aren’t going to be easy.
Keep reading – there’s some good news in all this mess.
A Broken World: God’s People Have It Best
While we as God’s people might have it pretty tough here on earth, we also have it best. We have an active, intimate, personal Savior to turn to. He might allow pain, but it always has a purpose, and He brings us deep comfort while the rest of the population simply tries to cope the best they can.
Jesus gets it – being a human here. He understood how scared his disciples were during his earthly ministry, and how discouraged they would become when he died. That’s why he lovingly comforted them in John 16:33:
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NLT).
He knows we each have to come to grips with brokenness we were never designed to experience. He knows that this world traumatizes each human soul in its own way. He knows it because He lived it too. His love alone can match and surpass the gravity of what we experience here; it understands, comforts, and mends our every hurt. Our hope in this broken world is our broken Savior, who saved us by his wounds and daily comes to our aid.
And not only does he get it, but he’s got a purpose for it – both in this life and the next. He’s not only promised an eternal home where joy and fulfillment await, but he’s also got great plans to bring beauty out of our mess now, right in the middle of the brokenness.
I love David’s declaration in Psalm 27 as he waits for God to redeem painful circumstances in his life:
“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
– Psalm 27:13-14 NLT
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