A friend shares that after three years of unemployment/underemployment, she finally has a new full time job starting Monday. She said, “I have felt hopeless, frustrated, and broken, but now I feel blessed.” Her struggle to balance her household finances was exhausting and challenging. Her struggle to balance her sense of identity and emotional self-worth was even more so. But God brought her through it.
Brokenness is a part of life. Relationships break, households break, nerves break, roles break, hearts break, and minds most certainly break. I spent about two and a half years feeling very broken when a decision to restructure our church staff eliminated several positions, including mine. I wandered in the Valley of the Shadow of Brokenness until a new church offered me a position. It was like being exiled to the Island of the Misfit Toys; the sense of rejection and my feeling of a lack of purpose was real and very, very hard to live with. I lost my identity. But God brought me through it.
When things are good, meaningful, important and fulfilling, they are also vulnerable to breakage. I recall hearing a widow standing by her husband’s coffin at his funeral saying, “If it hadn’t been so good, this wouldn’t feel so bad.” I think she nailed it with that one sentence. And God brought her through it.
Zephaniah has a wonderful word of encouragement for the journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Brokenness.
Zephaniah 3:17 New International Version (NIV)
17 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
It is amazing to think that God sings with rejoicing over us! That image alone is a lot of help in times of brokenness. When the brokenness seems to have no end date, it can be a hard burden to carry. But nothing lasts forever.
Casting Crowns uses a similar image of Jesus singing over us, with a voice of truth about our current reality:
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand
And he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again. “Boy you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don’t seem so high
From on top of them lookin’ down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me!
I once preached a funeral for a woman named Tina Owen Ross. She was a lovely matriarch of our community, and it was one of my first funerals where I really knew the person and really felt the loss. But I will always remember that day because of an epiphany God gave me in the middle of reading the 23rd Psalm.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
BAM. Death is a mere shadow, and what is a shadow? A temporary dark image that comes and goes with the position of the sun. Shadows don’t last for a lifetime. Shadows don’t even last for a day, for night comes and eliminates all shadowness.
So when you find yourself in the Valley of the Shadow of Brokenness, just keep your head up and keep pushing through it. God walks every valley with us and he is the great Mender and Fixer of broken things. There is an old cliche that goes, “If God brought you to it, he will bring you through it.” Look to the Mighty Warrior who saves, wait for your deliverance, and choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth
Photo by Jamie Haas Mathis.