As people, we’re a mixture of many things, most of them seemingly at odds with one another. We’re happy for our engaged friend, but sad that we’re single. We’re hurting for our friends’ struggle, but can see the hope that it can change. We’re excited to see our kids grow up and learn to do more, but miss the way they used to need us.
We see that in our spiritual life too, right? I’ll read my bible, but be a jerk to my brother. I’ll pray, feel encouraged and close to God…only to get to work, feel discouraged and alone.
It just doesn’t add up sometimes.
Add to the equation the idea of displacement…the theory that only one thing can exist in a space at any given time, and it becomes a pretty frustrating process that can shut us down. How can my brokenness still be present when I’m being healed? How can blessing co-exist with the pain I feel?
Look to the cross.
“Sorrow and Love Flow Mingled Down”
There’s nothing more violent, painful, ugly, or cruel.
There’s also nothing more merciful, blessed, beautiful, or kind.
The violence and the mercy are both there. It’s ugly, yet beautiful. Justice taken by Jesus pays for our injustice. Cruelty toward him is kindness towards us. Sorrow and love mingle, as the hymn goes.
Again, we see a small reflection in our own experiences here. Those beautiful moments we have with our kids are islands in a steady stream (whether directed at us or them) of frustration and sleeplessness. Your friend’s promotion is bittersweet when you can’t seem to get ahead. You’re broken and beautiful…at the same time. Your brokenness has beauty and your beauty is broken. They’re all things that we won’t completely shake this side of eternity.
Our pain, our relationships, our struggles…are all ugly. Is there a place for all that ugliness, that deceit, that pain?
Look again to the cross. It’s the means by which God saves us with the sacrifice of Jesus, but it’s also an invitation to the true mingling and mixing: that of the things in our lives we can’t seem to reconcile. We grow, and we still fail and stumble along the way. We get stronger, yet that one pain from long ago won’t go away completely. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “we’re sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:10)
So we look to the example of Jesus on the cross and the work of God that tells us that this mess of feelings and seemingly conflicting outcomes can cohabitate our lives.
And if they can coexist, we can be real.
We can be honest that, yes, God has brought me a long way but there are still things within my journey that remind me I’ve got a way to go.
Look to the cross. See the sorrow and love, the beauty and brokenness, mingled. Feel the freedom to admit that you have contradictions living in you, too.
Reflect on this…
Take a few moments to focus on this passage in 2 Corinthians 6:10…“Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” 2 Corinthians 6:10
Read it out loud and then silently. Let it move from your head into your heart. Then talk to the Lord about the ways in which it resonates with you. How is your beauty and brokenness mingled together?
Are you more prone to see your beauty or your brokenness? What prompts you to be more prone to one over the other?
If managed rightly, your brokenness will help you to live in humility while your beauty will help you receive a greater joy in life. What would it look like for you to have a healthy awareness of your brokenness with a concentrated effort to live from your beauty?