Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
Sunday, March 5, 2000

Finding meaning in the brokenness of our lives

All of us must learn to handle brokenness of one kind or another. How we deal with it determines whether we live well or merely endure until life ends.

Fanny Crosby and George Matheson were blind but refused to complain. Both composed beautiful songs which millions enjoy singing. They refused to let their brokenness "blind" them to their opportunity to live useful lives.

Popular singer Steven Curtis Chapman was going through a dry spell in his life. He felt desperate for a breakthrough in his spirit. Wanting God to do something, just to show up, he went out in the woods to pray. There he stacked some rocks to symbolize an altar and began to pray. As he was praying, he began to smell cedar. It was so strong that it distracted him from praying. He opened his eyes and began looking around. Soon he saw a little cedar tree which he had snapped in half by stepping on it. The smell was coming from that small, broken tree. Chapman saw it as a sign of God's coming to him. He wrote down these words, "The fragrance of the broken." God does indeed provide a "fragrance" which we may learn to cherish as we deal with our own brokenness and that of our loved ones. Like the little cedar tree, it may not be obvious. We have to look for it as Chapman did. Finding it, we begin to enjoy the "aroma of grace."

My friend "Miss Jimmy" was a poet who became blind as an adult. But she also declined to complain. She even claimed that her blindness was a blessing. It helped her to discover blessings she would not have known had her sight not failed. I had not bothered to read the Bible very much, "she said, "but when I became blind, I began to listen to the Bible on cassette tapes. Only then did I understand why it is considered the greatest book every written."

A good friend of mine has planned a trip out west this summer. He and his wife are driving their motor home out to Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, and California to see the sights. He explains why, "I have been diagnosed with an eye disease which could result in blindness in a few years. I want to see all that I can see while my vision is still good."

Evidently he had decided not to bother asking the question, "Why is this happeningto me?" Without complaining he is adjusting to the possibility of brokenness and designing a plan for coping with it when it happens.

The fact is that brokenness comes soon or late to us all. Whining about it, or asking "Why me?"gets us nowhere. As we face the pain with honesty and hope, something wonderful can occur. Character can happen. We can become finer people because we have faced our troubles with courage. We can become better instead of bitter.

Another good thing is that courage is contagious. Deal with your brokenness bravely, with a positive spirit, and your example will encourage someone else.

The challenge is to find a way to smell the "aroma of grace" in our pain and allow the fragrance of our brokenness to help ourselves and others around us. As someone said it so well, "Pain is inevitable but misery is optional."