"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." (Ernest Hemingway) Hemingway had a way with words which made him one of the most famous authors of all times, but he also had a connection with the despair and agony of the human soul which frequently came across in the words he penned. He was able to connect with the perils of loss, maybe as a result of being part of the ambulance corps during World War I or because he personally experienced the severe wounds of war himself. Either way, he made this connection of brokenness, despair, agony, and even sometimes defeat - all plaguing the human soul to some degree in almost all of his writings. Yet, nothing he said ever rings truer than the words above - through all the breaking processes in life we might just be left a little stronger at the broken place!
What sacrifice I can offer You is my broken spirit because a broken spirit, O God, a heart that honestly regrets the past, You won’t detest. (Psalm 51:17 VOICE)
Broken places are the "construction zones" God uses to make stronger the foundation upon which our lives are formed. We might think of them as rubble or damaged goods, but God looks on all those broken pieces as "building material". Hemingway also said, "Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another." You might have heard the little analogy of the "dash" between the dates on your tombstone are what makes the man's legacy - it isn't that he was born, or that he died, but what he did in that span known as the "dash" between the dates. It is that dash which represents so many of those "construction zones" God can use to make a person's life truly rich, strong at all the broken places, not just left as a pile of rubble.
We often look at the broken places as no longer serviceable areas - the issues with that area are too great that dealing with it makes life almost unbearable. Truth be told - we all have way more issues than we have strong places! We all end up in some process where brokenness is produced - if not one way, then another. Our battles and struggles are really not all that unique to each of us, yet even in the similarities, no two broken places in one or the other is exactly the same. We all get to the place of "brokenness" at a different speed, with a different set of circumstances, and perhaps with a different amount of courage to deal with what brought us to that point. Brokenness might look like devastation has occurred, but it takes a bulldozer to level the ground for the building, doesn't it?
A broken spirit and a contrite heart God will never despise, but guess what - these don't come naturally to us. We all likely have a pretty confident spirit and haughty heart until we don't do well in the test! At that place of "testing", what truly is within is revealed. You can recognize those who have been through the "construction process" a time or two, though. There is a little bit more strength there as they face the present struggle or challenge. They aren't immune to the issues, they just know where to place their trust when going through that struggle. They have learned their hope does not come from within themselves, but from God himself.
How we live and how we die - these distinguish a man one from another. I have seen many live with their own passions driving and dictating all of their lives, only to see it end with a great deal of unfulfilled dreams and broken relationships. I have also seen many live with determined connection with their God, observing their final hours as resolute joy in the face of seeing their heavenly Father face-to-face at last. In between birth and death, they each faced their "construction zones", but those who realized brokenness isn't a tragedy, but a place for God to build us up stronger than before come to life's end with a different resolve.
Brokenness doesn't spell disaster - it actually might just be a new beginning when it becomes the place where God's Spirit is free to dwell and do the work of making us stronger with all those broken pieces. Just sayin!