Unemployment. Broken relationships. Sickness. Addiction. Death. Greed. Lust. Doubt. Deceit.
At some point in all of our lives we have all felt the effects of one, or more, of the aforementioned. They’ve left us feeling shattered and broken, scattered across the floor. We’ve felt their weight bearing down on our lives.
As we’ve stared at the broken pieces, wondering how to even begin to rebuild, we’ve heard all of the well-intended clichés. Of all of them, this one grieves me the most…
“God has planned this for a purpose.”
How does that sit with the parent who just lost a child? Or the family who has lost their home due to unemployment? Tsunamis? Earthquakes? Sandy Hook? 9/11? What does that speak to them about the character and love of God?
Our son Micah loves to build with LEGO bricks, and he builds some pretty remarkable things. The first thing he does every time he finishes one of his new creations is that he cradles it in his arms and runs with it from his LEGO room to wherever we are.
Sometimes the creation doesn’t make it.
He stumbles and it falls, shattering across the floor.
What follows are his heartbroken sobs, because what once was beautiful to him is now broken all over the floor.
As he looks down at the broken pieces, we are able to come alongside him and gather the pieces up into a pile and assess the damage. An evaluation is made of the broken pieces and the remnants of what ‘once was’, and then something beautiful is built out of the broken pieces on top of what was left.
Something cool is built from something broken.
What we don’t do as parents is hide behind the sofa and jump out to knock the LEGO creation out of his hands in order to teach him a greater truth or to build a better creation than what he assembled.
We do not cause harm just to orchestrate a better good. There are times that we have to punish him in life, but he knows when it is punishment (I would say the same is true when God is disciplining someone, they are aware).
Understand this, I am not trying to diminish the omnipotence of God. God can do what He wants, when He wants, how He wants. I will never fully understand that. To be honest, I don’t want to understand that. A God that can be fully understood and defined by man is likely no God at all. The mysteries of God are beautiful.
What I am saying is that we have to stop generalizing God. We have to stop defining God, especially in the midst of tragedy. We do not know that God planned a particular event or happening for a purpose, because we are not God.
Some things in life happen because God sets it into motion, and some things in life just happen. We are free beings, with free choice and free will. As a result we make poor choices and those poor choices can affect others whether they want it to or not.
Sometimes our lives are shattered into hundreds of pieces across the floor, just because.
Not because God planned it for some greater purpose, but because it ‘just happened’.
This is why Romans 8:18-28 is so beautiful to me. As the comparison of our present suffering to our future hope collide, we read a beautiful statement in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
We acknowledge that even in the brokenness of this world, God can redeem.
In essence, God looks at our broken pieces that are scattered across the ground, He pulls them in close to assess everything, and then says “here, lets build something special out of this brokenness.”
The brokenness that happened being redeemed. Restoration.
We live in a world that is full of hope and desperation at the same time. A world that leaves our lives beautifully broken.
I am thankful that God is with us, and that He can pick up the pieces of our lives and build something beautiful with them; no only for ourselves, but for others out of our situation.
That is my hope in tragedy and suffering. May it be yours too.
Grace and Peace.