When a family in our church lost their home to a fire, fellow church members sprang into action with clothes, shelter and gift cards. Then they helped with the painful process of sifting through the ruins to salvage valuables and memories. Our church put into practice what the apostle Paul instructed: “Weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
Reminiscent of an era we wish were bygone, individuals consumed with hatred and prejudice carried torches and shouted slogans from a hideous time in America’s racial history as they marched across a university lawn. Barely twenty-four hours later, the governor of the state in which the school is located declared a state of emergency due to violent clashes. Only the base depravity of sin decries the life of another as less valuable, less human—and only the power of the cross brings us deliverance.
Researcher Brené Brown describes encountering in her work a unique group of people who seemed able to find significant joy and purpose in their lives regardless of their circumstances. The common thread uniting such people? Vulnerability. Perhaps counterintuitively, Brown found that those most willing to face their insecurities were also those most rooted in a secure sense of love and belonging.
An article titled “Jacob and Our Wrestling Match with God” reflects on the significance of God changing Jacob’s name, arguing that the name change points to a character transformation. “Jacob,” which means “crooked,” becomes “Israel,” which likely means “One who wrestles with God [and] One who is straight (direct, honest) with God.”
It’s easy to downplay how traumatic a broken heart can be. But the reality is that being rejected by another person can have a profoundly negative impact on the well-being of a person. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states that in the two months following a breakup, 40 percent of those affected are clinically depressed, and 12 percent moderately or severely so. When we’re rejected, it’s hard not to feel unimportant and unloved.
Loneliness. Lynsi Snyder felt it engulf her at age eighteen when her father died. Trying to fill the void, she abused substances, was married and divorced three times, and ended up still feeling alone and like a “piece of trash.”
The old lumberjack always strode with a purpose. But not today. Today the world clawed at his soul. As the gruff Swedish immigrant trudged up the hill to his family farm, tears rolled down his cheeks. The date was December 7, 1941, and Axel Gustafson had just heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor. His sons would be going to war.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” That saying has been used to cushion the blow of unpleasant words for more than 100 years. We know, however, that harsh words can pierce our hearts and shatter our spirits. Bruises and broken bones can heal with time, but a broken heart and crushed spirit caused by harsh statements aren’t easily mended. Some wounds can even prove to be fatal.
The woman and her daughter approached me after I had spoken on the way God can transform pain into something good. The daughter, Kate, was too distraught to talk, so her mother spoke for her.