Only in God’s “upside down” kingdom can we be made whole by being broken. (Actually, it’s this world that’s upside down. His is definitely the right way up.)
Let’s consider Romans 5:3-5: “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (NIV).
This past year over half a dozen members of our church family have said their final goodbyes to loved ones. Some had a strong faith and there is great comfort in that. Still, it isn’t easy to say goodbye to your son—even though he suffered for a long time, and, in a real way, it was a relief to know that suffering was over.
And then their was the wife of many years who had to give her husband permission to stop holding on for her and go home to be with the Lord. (Just 15 minutes after she did so, he entered the presence of His Saviour.)
How about the wife who lost her husband to lung cancer, which developed because of his many years working with asbestos? She knows it’s the Lord who has carried her through and continues to do so.
Another lady and her husband had just moved into the seniors’ building across the driveway from our church. They were both confined to wheelchairs and had several medical issues. Shortly after they moved, on Christmas Day, her husband passed away. As if that weren’t enough to send her into a tailspin, approximately two weeks later, her ailing mother succumbed as well. I can’t even begin to imagine.
Each one of these precious souls could have thrown up her hands and given up, broken, hurting, defeated. But that’s not what happened.
Although her emotions are still raw, the lady who lost both her husband and her mom has volunteered to participate in our church’s monthly clothing giveaway, seeking to bless others in need. Both ladies who lost their husband of many decades have both expressed how they sense God’s presence and the prayers of His people sustaining them. And the elderly lady who lost her son is truly thankful he has found freedom from the suffering he endured for so long.
Have they learned to glory in their sufferings? I’m not sure. But I do know they serve as an encouragement—and challenge—to me and others.
From our perspective, God’s way of doing things is, indeed, upside down. But, as He works in our circumstances and in us, He brings about wholeness from our brokenness.