This week I attended a funeral for a 23-month-old baby. It’s the second funeral for a child I have attended in as many months and the fifth in as many years. Because God has called me to a ministry that brings me in contact with hurting families all time, I often contemplate and question God’s purpose for all the suffering I see. I have grown and learned so much about His goodness and grace throughout the years and I am constantly reminded (because God spends A LOT of time reassuring me and reaffirming my ever-wavering faith) that this journey we are all on is temporary, but there are eternal lessons God needs us to learn now.
On my way home from this precious boy’s funeral I heard the song Sweetly Broken by Jeremy Riddle. In church the next day, we sang it again and our pastor preached on this brokeness. I knew it was God’s way of reminding me (because He has to do this again and again) why some of us seem to the called to suffering. I love this song. It is one of my favorites. It talks about be broken for Christ–coming to the end of yourself and finding Christ. Sweetly broken seems to be a contradiction. There typically isn’t anything sweet about being broken. But, when God does the breaking in order to draw us to Him, His Love, Grace, and Mercy are nothing but sweet.
God wants us to need Him. To know Him. To trust Him unconditionally. To love Him. To depend on Him so completely we cannot take a breath or a step without Him. Our human nature resists this. We want to rely on ourselves, to trust in others, and to love material things. Sometimes we must be “sweetly broken” in order to see ourselves as we truly are–utterly and completely dependent on Christ.
I cannot think of a sweeter way to break a mother’s, father’s, brother’s, sister’s, grandparents, or friends heart for Christ than through caring for and loving a special-needs child. God knows what He is doing when he places these amazingly wonderful children in the lives of people He loves. There is nothing sweeter and more heartbreaking than loving one of His special creations. He knows it is not possible to care for these children in your own strength. The weight of it will crush you and bring you straight to your knees–that’s the broken part. The sweet part is when you get to this place of brokeness, Jesus is there to take the weight and give you hope.
I am quite certain I could never fully understand the sacrifice God made when He sent His only Son, Jesus, to the cross until I held my own child in my arms as she was dying. In the book Heaven if for Real, Todd Burpo writes,
The scripture says that as Jesus gave up his spirit, as he sagged there, lifeless on that Roman cross, God the Father turned his back. I am convinced that he did that because if he had kept on watching, he couldn’t have gone through with it.
Could you? I spent over a year pleading with God for the life of my child. I cannot for one second conceive of sending her to her death willingly. This folks is why God calls some of us to suffering. He made the ultimate sacrifice and Jesus paid the ultimate price. He did so because he loves us and he will do whatever it takes to draw us to himself. There are countless ways he could do this, any number of situations and scenarios that would lead us to him, but sometimes he uses these special little people to break us for him.
God did not give us the ability to see the “big picture.” So often all the suffering seems pointless and cruel. I don’t understand it all and I cannot comprehend how all the suffering fits into his plan. All I can do is trust in the promises his has given us.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. Matthew 5:3