The beauty of brokenness

This seems to be a season of loved ones who are struggling with illnesses. They range from the seriousness of my neighbor just diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma to bothersome stomach viruses. In each case, however, it has been interesting to see how the person’s perspective can be altered as HaShem reminds us He is still with us.

Take my neighbor, for example. She thought she had beat this cancer after surgery a little over a year ago. And yet, the cancer has returned, this time with more complications. Just as she thought she was facing the worst at Dana Farber this week, her adult stepson was in a very serious auto accident. He will be fine. Yet the happening succeeded in shifting the focus for awhile from her health challenges to that of another which helped put hers in perspective. Although her husband is now dealing with two loved ones facing medical challenges, he, too, is reminded that the picture is much larger than just that of his wife’s medical needs. He is reminded of the importance of him taking care of himself as a caregiver to others. He is reminded that things could be worse, and that things can improve as his son will soon be released from the hospital.

Then there are the less extreme situations. The barometer for me of whether I am in need of some emotional healing is my neck. For the past several weeks I have had a nagging pain on the right side of my neck. This usually means something is bothering me, something stressful, which I’m not acknowledging. It can be work related, financial concerns, personal relationship issues, health worry. In any event it’s my signal to seek inner healing, literally, for somehow unintentionally my mind has forced the issue inside and I recognize to be healed I must bring it back to the surface.

Sometimes these are times of an inordinate amount of sickness coming in relentless waves, one thing after another, giving us barely, if any, time to recover in between. Multiple challenges accost us, sometimes our own compounded by those around us, several of our loved ones at once, or in succession with seemingly no end. These times of excessive health challenges seem to be a reflection of the stories in the news – events that are chaotic, filled with brokenness, injury, sickness, even death. Shootings at a baseball practice, random explosions injuring innocents, rampant lyme disease, senseless killings. . .

And then I read the amazing email of the successful walk through vanquishing kidney cancer of our beloved Lainey’s husband, Joseph. Baruch HaShem! We are reminded to wake up each day to thank our Abba for restoring our souls to us. We are reminded to persevere and seek healing. We are reminded that miracles do happen. We are reminded to never lose faith and to trust in Him. We are reminded to praise and glorify Him and never stop praying. We are reminded of the power of drawing close to Him. We are reminded to remember the big picture.

Perhaps these times of personal and loved ones’ health challenges serve to strengthen us, to remind us that we need our Abba desperately. When all is well it is so easy to forget our priorities and to not honor Him as often and deeply as we should. When we face illness whether of ourselves or others, we can’t help but recognize our fragility and our mortality. We need Him.

The truth is we need Him all the time. Perhaps dealing with illness is the tangible reminder of that paramount fact. So too, health challenges are the training ground strengthening us to more ably handle what is going on in the world around us, and what may lie ahead. Just as we gain new perspectives through these experiences and witness healings, so too will we be more able to live in a world in deep need of healing. These are the days of preparation. These are the days of hope.

Just as Joseph was healed, so too will be the world, when our Messiah Yeshua returns.

Shabbat shalom.

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  1. Lee Atlas

    Thank you for sharing these most insightful and probing observations about human suffering and its impact on our lives. I have been the kind of person that tends to forget God when things go smoothly. The depth of that ‘spirit of forsaking’ was deeper and more threatening to my well being (spiritual) than I realized.

    After a prolonged season of this attitude, and out of the blue, I got a bad back ache. It became very intense so I had to call 911. I laid in the hospital emergency room and intense pain and then it was learned that I had a kidney stone. They sent me home with pain killers. 4 days later I went back as things worsened — all the while, I was in intense pain. I went back into the hospital in worse pain than ever. I was in the waiting room crying and yelling out for help for 90 minutes while family and other patients waited for treatment as well. It turned out that the kidney stone was misdiagnosed and much too large to pass naturally and was lodged dangerously in the urinary tract.

    I was in the hospital 5 more days because they did not have the machine needed to do an operation. Now I was on heavy pain killers for 5 days to keep the pain down while waiting for a surgery opportunity with the machine. After the surgery I was sent home with a urinary catheter deep in my system which remain for about a week. Discomfort was pretty bad even then.

    As I recuperated from home I sat on my couch blank and numb from the experience. I had nowhere to go and nothing to do and no agenda. I was just sitting there in a state of blankness trying to get better and take my mind off the pain and the serious case of constipation I had from 5 days of Dilaudid.

    It was at this point with the Holy Spirit had me!

    I could sense Him speaking to me. I realize how callous I had become, how desensitized I had been to the Lord. The silence was used by God to reveal to me the depth of my depravity. But God still had his hand on me and it was only through this kidney stone experience and he was able to re-awaken me to my need for Him, His love for me in the importance of keeping those two truths as part of my daily thought life.

    Little by little things started to improve and I began to take joy in reading the scriptures again. That was just one of many attitudes that God begin to work on as I yielded to him.

    Out of this whole experience came song!

    I called it Free to Live for Him.

    I was walking along some slippery sand,
    Resting on Shaky Ground,
    Then I finally came to my senses,
    When I looked all around.

    I saw Satan prowling like a roaring lion,
    And evil desires Within,
    Then I reached for Jesus’ garment,
    Any rescued me from sin.

    From Rocky ground uprooted whole,
    Now born to yield a hundredfold.

    Well it goes on for a couple of stanzas. But I just wanted to share all this, Diane, to let you know that your Thursday evening writing really made a difference in my life. It immediately brought to mind the experiences I just shared above but had forgotten about! It may have put the brakes on yet another slide, where things change so suddenly one doesn’t even know till one is already in it — like the Israelites who so forgot about the benefits of God while he was even blessing them.

    As I head out to walk my Buddy dog this morning, my focus will be entirely different than what it might have been had I not seen your beautiful writing. Thanks! Lee

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