Holy Everything: Facing your brokenness leads to healing
It’s pretty natural to want to avoid desperate, painful situations. When something difficult comes up in our lives or the lives of the people we know, we often sidestep, back away or turn around. It’s an understandable instinct. We want to bypass pain because sometimes pain can lead to feelings of fear and uncertainty.
And yet, it’s often in those painful, broken places that we most clearly encounter grace, healing and transformation.
When many would turn and walk swiftly away from desperate situations, Jesus does the opposite. He actually steps toward bleak circumstances and wounded, hurting, confused people. Instead of saying everything is “fine” when it isn’t, Jesus acknowledges the realities of pain and despair in the lives of the people he encounters.
The Gospels are full of stories about Jesus walking right into the middle of seemingly impossible situations and bringing hope.
Mark is the second book of the New Testament. It’s in the back half of the Bible, and it’s the oldest of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Here are a few stories from Mark’s gospel in which Jesus steps toward pain:
Mark 1:29-34 — Simon’s mom is sick. Jesus steps into the situation and then heals a bunch of other ailing people, too.
Mark 5 — This chapter is packed with stories about people who have run out of options. A sick man living in isolation. A woman who has had a bleeding disorder for 12 years and run out of money visiting different doctors. A dying pre-teen. And into all three desperate situations, Jesus offers restoration and his real presence.
Mark 9:14-29 — A dad and his suffering son. No one else knew how to help them. Jesus steps toward the situation and the young boy was restored to health.
Mark 14:32-42 — Jesus in the garden called Gethsemane. He senses that his death is near and he’s feeling deeply grieved. But instead of avoiding those feelings and the road ahead of him toward the cross, he keeps going. He pours out his whole truth to God as he prays.
In each of these stories from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ approach to life’s broken places is a compelling clue for what it means to be a Christian today. Following Jesus is about being present and accompanying one another in the midst of life. It’s about believing and proclaiming that God is fully present, too.
I met a spiritual director named Brice last week during a video shoot for work. He said, “God is the great recycler. God can use anything.” Jesus reveals this throughout his earthly ministry. He shows people that God doesn’t avoid our greatest difficulties and deepest vulnerabilities. Instead, the Great Artist, uses all of it … always weaving new strands into the cosmic story of justice, restoration, compassion, possibility and forgiveness that God has been writing since the beginning of time.
Not all of the desperate situations we face in life end with a miraculous cure. There are many occasions when painful, difficult circumstances stay painful and difficult for a long time. Divorces are finalized. Loved ones die. Unemployment runs out.
Being a Jesus follower doesn’t give us magical powers to cure everyone and fix all of life’s difficulties. Instead, it gives us the courage to step forward. To step into brokenness. To walk toward uncertainty. To acknowledge that pain is real and life can be excruciating sometimes.
Christ’s presence in our lives gives us courage to replace fear with trust. We can trust that in stepping closer to the wounds of this life and this planet, we will encounter a God who is already there with open arms. Full of grace. Full of healing. Full of love.