Blessings Out of Brokenness
By Joni Eareckson Tada
Although I have lived in a wheelchair for nearly 50 years, you couldn’t meet a happier, more thankful person than me. I’m sure that sounds strange. How can I be happy when my hands can’t feel or hold anything, and my legs don’t walk?
Most people are glad to give thanks to God for things that ‘look and feel’ like blessings, such as good health, food on the table, and bills paid. But as I get older, my quadriplegia feels as good as those blessings, and more. How can that be?
I found the answer recently while reading John 6. Remember all those hungry people, watching Jesus give thanks for two small fish and five small loaves of bread? It was just a meager little lunch, so paltry and insignificant, and I’m sure the disciples wondered why Jesus could be so thankful for such skimpy provisions.
But as Jesus took the bread, broke it, and blessed it, the little lunch ended up miraculously feeding thousands. That’s the way I look at my broken neck. Somehow in the breaking of my life, He blessed it.
Of course, in the beginning, I felt anything but blessed. When I severed my spinal cord in the diving accident that left me a quadriplegic, I thought I would never be happy again. I felt abandoned and forsaken by God – a little like Jesus when he cried out from His cross, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Yet, at the height of His desolation, at that very moment, Jesus was, in fact, wedged securely in the center of His Father’s will. Decades ago when I was stuck in a hospital for 24 months, I also cried, “God, why have you forsaken me?” The Lord couldn’t have felt more distant. Yet right when I felt the most forsaken, I was actually wedged securely in the center of God’s will.
Life is hard and painful, and I am certain there are times you feel abandoned by God. Like me, you wake up in the morning facing the same difficult circumstances: your family dynamics haven’t changed, your bank account isn’t better, your migraine doesn’t go away, the back pain doesn’t heal, and the problems that plague you aren’t getting fixed.
So what is the connection between your brokenness and happiness? Simply this: God will lead you through awful things, not so much that you might be healed, but that you may know the Healer. And not so much that you will be delivered, but that you will know more intimately the Deliverer.
Alan Redpath wrote, “There is no circumstance, no trouble, no testing, that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose.” And that great purpose is primarily your ultimate happiness in knowing – really knowing – Jesus.
He was the most God-forsaken man who ever lived, so that He might say to you, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” Remember that the next time God leads you through a time of great loss, pain or grief. For only the Broken can truly appreciate all that brokenness wins us – that is, the tender contentment and deep-down joy of knowing the only One who can deliver us out of every trouble, and into the sweet satisfaction of knowing Christ!
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