Across my life, I’ve had a couple of broken bones. I finally got cleared from my latest break to resume all activities – but I still can’t lift much of anything. Still, it is mending. I’m thankful.
At the beginning of Lent, Psalm 51 is read at the Ash Wednesday service each year. There’s one verse that grabbed my attention this year: “Let the bones that you have crushed rejoice” (Ps 51:8).
Strange to think of our life journey as bone-crushing – but there are times, for many of us, that it is. Then there’s the spiritual aspect. In Psalm 51 David is crushed. After Nathan confronted him about Bathsheba, his life needs to be knitted back together again. God is the one who helps us break away from unhealthy choices or patterns. God is the one who mends what is broken.
In our lives, what emerges is a pattern of breaking and mending. This is not strange; frankly, it’s unavoidable. It’s just part of this life. Ernest Hemingway’s character Henry in A Farewell to Armsput it this way: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
We’re broken. All of us. Maybe literally – a hip, an arm. Maybe emotionally – grief, depression. Maybe spiritually – disbelief, impatience. Our world is broken. Parents fail. Our children disappoint us. Our grandchildren speak another language. Families are broken. We’re broken people living in a broken world. What truly matters is how we find the strength to mend those broken places within ourselves, others, and the world.
At some point there is a reckoning: we must name our temptations, acknowledge the powerful nature of sin – the things that break us and our broken places. And we must turn to the grace of God. It was revealed at the cross. This grace meets us in our broken places. We experience new life through the power of the Resurrection.
In part, Lent is about naming those broken places and seeking God’s mending.
It is a time to recall those words from the hymn How Firm a Foundation:
When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of woe shall not you overflow;
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
and sanctify to you your deepest distress.
May your broken places be mended this Lenten season.
-Dr Greg Davis