Hang Onto the Ship’s Broken Pieces

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Cast all your worries upon Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

When God noticeably breaks into a person’s life, it rarely happens in church. He comes most often in human experience: death of a loved one, serious illness, financial difficulty, divorce . . . job loss. And though some people find God in that experience, others feel abandoned into a dark abyss.

The difference, I believe, is the presence of believers—persons of faith who walk with someone in a personal struggle. Richard J. Niebuhr compares God’s breaking into our life to a shipwreck. “Life’s mysteries toss us into cold, chaotic waters,” Niebuhr says, “and we are over our heads, drowning. Yet in the chaos we sense ourselves being washed ashore.” Notice that Niebuhr does not speak of swimming ashore . . . but being washed ashore. Like Paul in the storm, our faith is fragile and vulnerable. Paul survived by holding on to the ship’s broken pieces—and, sometimes, all anyone can do is hang on. But to walk with a hurting person is to become broken pieces for another to cling to. Frederick Buechner wrote, “We have it in us to work miracles of love and healing and to have them worked on us. We have it in us to bless with Him and forgive with Him and heal with Him and grieve with Him and rejoice with Him.” As Paul affirms in Colossians, “. . . it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.”

Over and again, in our own lives and others', we see that God’s nature is to pull goodness from brokenness, joy from pain, and blessing from sorrow. More often than not, He does it through people like you and me. “Cast all your worries upon Him because He cares for you,” in essence means that Jesus wants to serve you; empower you; heal you; bless you. And, we must do likewise. Therein, I believe, lays the secret to perseverance—the answer that helps us move on: Be Christ to each other.

Henri Nouwen put it this way: “When we honestly ask ourselves which people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who—instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures—have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness—that is the friend who cares.”