Have you ever felt acutely aware of your own brokenness? Like something very deep inside of you is broken, and irreparable? Do you ever feel like you have tried every day to fix yourself, just to wake up later and realize that you are more broken than you were before?
That is where I was at about 1:00 this afternoon.
I found myself there, crying in a professor’s office, trying to face doubt and cynicism with courage and faith, and failing miserably. Lately I have found myself trapped in a cycle of cynicism and unbelief, unhealthy life patterns, and hopeless pride. What kind of life do I want? A vibrant faith expressed in indomitable, feminine courage and compassion. What do I feel I have? Exactly the opposite. I desperately needed the fatherly hug and encouragement my prof offered.
Also in that moment, I desperately needed a glimpse of Jesus’ attitude toward people like me.
The Paralytic and Me
I was reminded of the story of the paralytic in John 5. He had been lying beside a pool for thirty-eight years, hoping that somehow its rumored “magical” powers would heal him. But his solution failed. He was too paralyzed to get into the pool fast enough to be healed, if it would have healed him at all. On top of that, no one even cared enough about him to help him. Then Jesus came along. The renowned Healer looked at that crippled man and said, “Do you want to be healed?” (I believe, “Um, YES, duh. And thank you,” is the correct response.) But the paralyzed man was still so stuck in his human solutions that he said, “But I don’t have anyone to put me in the pool. How can I be healed?” He said that to God. Like, the One who could raise dead people — so dead that they stunk (aka Lazarus). The paralytic didn’t think he could be healed, not unless Jesus was there to put him in the pool. He wanted Jesus to empower his man-made solution, but he couldn’t see that Jesus had a much bigger plan, one that didn’t include his superstitious, futile resources.
The truth is, I am just like that guy. I’m still trying to figure out a way to get myself out of my mess so I can get back to Jesus. But Jesus has come to me. Jesus came to that man while he was still broken, when he was hopeless, when he had exhausted every human healing resource. Now Jesus has come to me, and I am trying to use Him to empower my own human answers, when He is looking at me and saying, “Do you want to be healed??”
What I need is not another fabricated solution. I need Jesus Himself. I need to say “YES! I want to be healed!” And then I need Him to reach down His hand and lift me to my feet. To say, “Get up, take up your bed and walk.”
The LORD Who Heals
Jesus is Yahweh Rapha — the self-sufficient, promise-keeping God who heals. He has reached so far into our brokenness that He even took on the likeness of our sinful flesh in order to restore us. He is no stranger to the fragmented nature of our existence — “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4). The most happy, most perfect One, entered into our pain and restored us by being broken Himself. “He took bread and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body that is given for you’” (Luke 22:19). “With His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The hands that reach down to heal us are scarred, and their mutilation is their deepest beauty. Jesus feels the deepest aches of our humanity, the desperation of our ineffective self-efforts to find peace. And He doesn’t deride us for the duct tape that we put repeatedly on the cracks of our souls because we thought it could fix everything. Instead, He gently peels it off and says, “Do you want to be healed?”
Every morning I wake up and take an anti-depressant pill. I have a tangible reminder every day that my body and my mind and my emotions are broken. Part of it is humiliating — I am too proud to admit that I need help. The other part of it is thankfulness-producing — God has used the miracle of man-made drugs to help me. However, my hope does not lie in resources crafted by human ingenuity. It lies in my Lord Jesus. He is the master of metamorphosing our pain into beauty.
Yet the fact remains that in this fallen world, part of me will always be broken, and I will constantly desire to be fully restored. That final restoration will come, in the glory of heaven where in perfect wholeness I will worship at mutilated feet, be lifted up by pierced hands, and hug a body with a gashed side. There, where I will forever be reminded of the brokenness that healed me.