Beauty in Brokenness

I found this noteworthy passage when I was reading the booklet, “Mentoring for Life and Leadership” by Pastor Herman Moldez. It hit me since I’ve been counseling a couple of people the past weeks who have been overwhelmed by questions and doubts while going through faith-stretching situations.

I thought of sharing this with you, as you continue seeking the Lord at the state that you are now. Hang in there, my friend.  And may the Lord’s grace be so sufficient for you as you “process” your present personal struggles.  I’m sure it would be a tough “wrestling match” internally; but our God is faithful and loving — just as He was with Paul.

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Living the Spirituality of Vulnerability

Paul prayed for three times and never received the answer he wanted.  He prayed for deliverance, instead he remained captive to demonic torment (see 2 Cor. 12:8).  Paul died with his “thorn in the flesh”.  He remained weak.  And he was not ashamed to admit it.  Why didn’t God fix Paul’s problem and pain?  As Paul struggled bitterly with the painful torment of the thorn buried in his flesh (literally or metaphorically), he discovered the power of God’s grace.

The wonder of God’s grace is exhibited in human weakness.  God’s love is felt deeply in times of suffering.  God became real to Paul – when He did not fix his pain, but instead gave him grace.  God invites us to walk with Him in the dark alleys and deep valleys of life to experience the reality of His presence (Psalm 23:4).  This does not deny the work of God to heal the sick, to restore broken marriages, to grow struggling churches to mega churches.  But we must not deprive ourselves of encountering God in human weakness and suffering.  The intimate experience of knowing God happens by our willingness to embrace both the crown and the cross, prosperity and poverty, joy and agony of serving the Lord (see Phil. 3:10; 4:10-13).

Rather than offering quick-fix solutions to people’s problems, perhaps we must learn to watch and wait on God.  Let us learn to live the spiritual life powerfully in times of darkness.  God can make Himself very real even in His silence.  God is at His best when life is at its worst.  So let us allow people to struggle with their own brokenness and in their own vulnerability that they may learn to embrace God’s love and encounter God’s power.  We may not be aware of it, but our persistent effort to help and give advice may only make people dependent on us instead of God.  Maybe that’s what we want – to feel needed and to perform our best trick and technique to solve the world’s problem.  We want credit.  And that’s the reason God made Paul endure his pain – to humble him and allow him to give God the glory.

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WANTED: Ordinary People

“I’m not ready for it. I need more training.”

“Perhaps another person’s more suitable for the position.”

“I’m simply not enough.  Just get the other guy.”

While this may be true at a certain degree, I’m quite sure most people have articulated similar statements when being challenged to step up into service, into a kind of ministry, or into a leadership position regardless the context.  I am not one to judge their motives, but in my own experience, I’ve sometimes made them to prevent myself from responding with a “yes” to such opportunities.  I sulk into emphasizing the inadequacy I find in me.  I just can’t bear thinking that such a loser would accept the challenge.

Oops! I guess I’m being too hard on myself there, so pardon me for my moment of self-pity.  Yet again, I can’t help but believe that millions (and probably billions) of humans think and feel the same way!  We raise the “L” gesture on our foreheads and we condemn ourselves for being not enough.   We embrace that “I-ain’t-perfect-for-the-job” attitude over and over, both consciously and subconsciously.

Here’s a thought, though… as long as sin lurks in the human heart, we could never say that we’re downright perfect for anything.  HOWEVER, God uses imperfect human beings for His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Let me share a simple account about two guys whose story completely swept me away, and whose changed lives constantly remind me to overcome my struggle with inadequacy.

Years ago, there lived two men named John and Peter.  These guys were pretty close friends, I’d say.  They had been working and journeying together for more than three years by then.  Other than that, they’re prominently known for being followers of Jesus.  And when this account was taken, Jesus has already left earth and has commissioned his disciples to spread the news about Him.

Then, the story continues.

On an ordinary day, as they were walking towards the temple for their time of prayer, a beggar who had been lame from his childhood suddenly appeared into the picture.  The man asked for alms, as he’d usually do, but Peter and John don’t have money as well.

Instead, they gave what the beggar really needed – healing.  In an instant, his feet and ankles were strengthened, and he was able to walk for the first time!  He leaped in jubilation!  He glorified God, in response!

Since he’d been begging alms for quite a long time, people noticed the radical change, of course.  It was sure that such a miraculous event could not escape the eyes and ears of the “bosses” of the religious sects of that time.  True enough, being alarmed, the higher-ups had to bring Peter and John in for interrogation.

“By what power or what name did you do this?” they sternly asked.

Now, brace yourself for Peter’s fearless response:

“Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.”

Peter and John were filled with the Holy Spirit as they were being grilled before the Sandhedrin; and that fact simply resonated in the entire hall.

When the higher-ups saw these two guys’ courage and “realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Unschooled? Ordinary? Noteworthy.

If you would closely observe God both in the Old and New Testaments, He really has a knack for picking people you would least expect to be in the frontlines.

Even if it’s unorthodox, one’s credential was, is, and will never be an issue in His perspective.  After all, His kingdom is open for servants, not “rock stars”.  He is constantly in search for ordinary people, regardless his or her background.  And from these imperfect people, He turns their ashes into beauty by transforming the core of their beings and enabling them to do what could be thought impossible.

How about you?  Do you struggle with so many insecurities?  Does your feeling of inadequacy hinder you from being more and more of the person that God has called you to be?

Shake it off. And, think again.

Remember this: the Lord glorifies Himself through the lives of ordinary, unschooled people.  Just look at Peter and John!  God did the same in my life.  And perhaps, you are next in line.

*Reference: Acts 3-4:13