The man collapsed in front of our house.
We didn’t know at first, but it was an unusually cool day in early summer and our windows were open. We didn’t hear him fall off his bike, hit the ground, or cry out in pain.
What we heard was a voice asking, “Sir, are you okay?”
Hearing that, I glanced out the window and saw the stranger sprawled across the road, his feet still hooked onto his bicycle. Rain had just started to fall, so I grabbed a jacket, umbrellas, and a blanket and joined the Good Samaritans who had stopped to help.
We did what we could: called 911, covered him to protect from the chill and held the umbrella to block the light rain.
Mostly, though, we tried our best to rouse him. Did a car hit you? Do you feel pain? What’s your name? How can we help?
Where does it hurt?
That’s the question we returned to so often. Other than some scrapes on the hand and a small cut to the head, nothing was obvious. No matter what we asked, how often we asked or how loudly we raised our voices, though, he remained unresponsive.
The chief arrived in his truck with lights flickering. He placed his hands on the man’s shoulder and picked right up where we left off, “Sir, what’s your name? Where does it hurt? Can you tell me what’s wrong?”
Still, there was no response. So, they loaded him into an ambulance and carried him off to the hospital.
Sometimes when we feel broken and hurting, it’s easy to identify the source of the pain.
We’re hurting because of a broken relationship, death, abuse, job loss, financial crisis, ministry struggles . . . A physician could hold up an x-ray of our life and instantly reveal the brokenness. It would light up on the screen showing the exact location with a line of fracture showing how far and how deep.
Maybe we’d even have a therapeutic solution at the ready to make the brokenness heal over time. A bandage here, a cast there, a medicine or treatment . . . and then we would be whole again.
But there are times when we just hurt. We feel inexplicable sadness. We know we are broken, but the x-rays remain unclear about where or how. Or, perhaps instead of showing a clear-cut fracture, they reveal shattered fragments in a hopeless messy state.
We ask each other all the time, “How are you?” and mostly we say, “fine” or “good” in an off-handed way.
What would happen, though, if one of us said, “I’m sad and I don’t even know why. I’m feeling broken, tender, easily bruised. My eyes fill with tears at the slightest provocation. I’m like an endless source of emotion, just spilling all over the place and I don’t know how to turn off the spout or clean up the mess”?
That would be a conversation stopper.
There’s beauty in a God, though, who knows when “I’m fine” really means we’re not. We can’t fake it with Him.
Nor is our brokenness a mystery. Maybe we ourselves don’t even understand our sadness, but He does.
When God first met with Hagar, the servant of Abraham and Sarah, as she ran into the wilderness after being abused, He asked her, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8).
Then He paused for her answer, and she had a reply at the ready. “I’m running away from my mistress.” Simple as that. Clear and precise brokenness and He ministered to her, giving her promises for her future and instructing her to return home.
Yet, when she desperately fled into the wilderness a second time years later, God asked, “What troubles you Hagar?”
Without a second of pause . . . without her answer . . . without her breaking into tears and pouring out a confusing response of hurt and pain that just couldn’t explain it all, God kept talking, “Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is” (Genesis 21:17).
He asked because He cared. Yet, knowing her crisis and her pain, He already had a ministry of provision and comfort for her at the ready without even needing for her to explain it all.
When you face this brokenness too hard to explain or describe, remember that you can bring it to him without a word. He knows. He cares. And He is working to comfort and restore you.
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2012 Heather King