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Brokenness qualifies you to help heal

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                Somewhere in the fog of returning home from a board meeting in Dallas and feeling the jolt of re-entry to a home environment, I remembered this paradox. “God says, my power is made perfect in weakness.” I felt weak but could not re…
By Seth Barnes

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Somewhere in the fog of returning home from a board meeting in Dallas and feeling the jolt of re-entry to a home environment, I remembered this paradox. “God says, my power is made perfect in weakness.” I felt weak but could not relate to Paul’s conclusion:  “When I am weak, then I’m strong.” (2 Cor. 12; 8-10)

This is the language of dependence, of having to rely on God because you are bankrupt. In a land founded on independence, it is a language most of us can’t understand. Everything in me is drawn to become self-sufficient, but is simultaneously at odds with a God with who wants to display his power through me, a God who has set it up so that it will be obvious to others that it is indeed God and not me by empowering me in areas where I am obviously flawed and even foolish-looking.

I don’t know where you are weak. I think I’ve mentioned in past blogs that one of my areas of pitifulness is that I can be insensitive. This is most obviously apparent in the familiar places of life where I let my guard down – in the home, and especially in my marriage.

God doesn’t miraculously give me the gift of tact, but he does whisper to me about how to be soft when, in the midst of life’s pressures, I just want to kick the dog and “tell it like it is.”

Call it a flaw, or call it brokenness, this weakness of mine makes me a candidate to partner with God. The trouble is, on days like today, when I wake up irritable, I don’t feel much like being a partner with God or anybody else. I feel prickly and unlovable and forlornly human. There is little in me that is prone to love anything right now. If there is one cup of coffee left in the pot, I can’t be trusted to not fight Karen for it.

It’s stupid and pedestrian and more indicative of selfishness than true brokenness. Brokenness looks more like the man going to prison we prayed for Friday night, or the lady with MS who fought to stand up out of her wheelchair in the same prayer circle.

In my Outlook inbox this morning is:

an email from Peter, a 19 year-old orphan in Liberia,

emails from leaders describing missionaries who can’t get along in Peru and South Africa,

and an email from a pastor asking for help for 35 orphans in Myanmar.

It goes on from there. “We’re all shot up,” says the sergeant in Blackhawk Down.

Maybe if you’re wrestling with your own relentless self-sufficiency or lack of tact, my confession looks like grace to you. Maybe you’ll find it helpful in pulling yourself out of a rut of self-condemnation. You think to yourself, “If he struggles with it, then maybe I’m not as hopeless as I thought.”

Or perhaps you have this thought: “I should be open with my wife about the fact that I do struggle and that I don’t like this about myself.” And maybe when you act on that thought and actually humble yourself, by opening up to her, your wife grimly smiles to herself and mutters, “Finally! Now maybe we can get somewhere in the relationship.”

If you’re that husband or if you’re someone else all too aware of your own flaws, locked in a battle to find your better self, I have good news for you today. The rest of us are as messed up as you may feel. And the act of embracing the mess and exposing it to a world that thinks we’re better than we are makes us not a sham, but a candidate for God’s grace, and miraculously, partnership with him.

Part of being human means being flawed and needing grace. What a paradox that by moving toward our pain, we not only move toward healing, but sometimes become instruments of healing in the lives of others.

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