Bruised and Broken? God has a Plan for You!

Thornton Wilder's play, “The Angel that Troubled the Waters” is based on the story found in John 5:1- 5 with an interesting twist. The play tells the story of a doctor who visits the pool of Bethesda in hopes that he could be the first in the water when the angel appears and troubles the water so he would be healed of his depression. He is not alone. The pool is surrounded by people who also want to be first in the pool for their healing. The water begins to stir, but an angel appears and stops the doctor as he gets ready to step into the pool! This is what follows:

Angel: “Draw back, physician, this moment is not for you.”

Physician: “Angelic visitor, I pray thee, listen to my prayer.

Angel: “Healing is not for you.”

Physician: “Surely, surely, the angels are wise. Surely, O Prince, you are not deceived by my apparent wholeness. Your eyes can see the nets in which my wings are caught; the sin into which all my endeavors sink half-performed cannot be concealed from you.”

Angel: “I know.”

Physician: “Oh, in such an hour was I born, and doubly fearful to me is a flaw in my heart. Must I drag my shame, Prince and Singer, all my days more bowed than my neighbor?”

Angel: “Without your wound where would your power be? It is your very sadness that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve. Drawback.”

The doctor doesn't make it to the pool first, but another does and is healed. They emerge from the water invigorated and jubilant. He approaches the doctor and says:

“But come with me first, an hour only, to my home. My son is lost in dark thoughts. I — I do not understand him, and only you have ever lifted his mood. Only an hour. . . My daughter, since her child has died, sits in the shadow. She will not listen to us, but she will listen to you.”

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Have you ever looked at your life and felt painfully aware of the bumps, bruises, and breaks in your life? They are not often immediately noticeable to others, and we often work darn hard to keep them hidden, to disguise them. We can disguise them by pretending to be something we aren't, with chronic over achievement, fancy clothes, cars and "stuff"! The practice of hiding produces loneliness. In thinking, we have to be "perfect" to be liked and loved we hide, and we only ever let ourselves be known as deep as our charade. Sometimes, we hold to the idea that only those who have it all figured out, those who are whole, can be loved, have value, can help others and serve God. We all rationally understand that everyone has their issues, and no one is perfect, but for some reason, we think we have to be to be of value. How often do we feel disqualified because of illness, a wound, a circumstance, or a failure?

You are not alone!

Many of us struggle with these feelings. The good news is that while we are all banged up from life. While we are like fragile clay jars, we hold a wonderful treasure. Within our cracked-pot lives, we are indwelt by the person of God - Jesus! It is often through the cracks, chips, and dents of life that the brilliance of this treasure we carry shines forth into the midst of what can seem like at times, a very dark place. Even in our brokenness the wonder and glory of our God shines through into the world. And strangely, this can be an encouragement for many people who are broken as well and looking for real hope. The Father will use all things for our good; He will also use them for others good as well. Even our brokenness. The Father is the master recycler.  He wastes nothing! So, even in our weakness, God is still strong!

"In Love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve.”

Sit with (meditate on) 2 Corinthians 4:7:18 below. Let it swish around in your heart. Taste it, experience it. Allow the promise of the ever present, always faithful God to enliven these words in your heart. Let the fruit of hope arise in you, along with the perseverance, humility, and peace that it brings, even in the storm.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. - 2 Cor. 4:7-18 NLT

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