Why God Made a Breakable World

11 01 2011

Ever since Adam and Eve made forbidden knowledge their afternoon snack, theologians and philosophers have grappled with the problem of evil, trying to square the existence of a self-perpetuating universal curse with a sovereign and loving God. Far be it from me — one who is neither theologian nor philosopher — to attempt to explain away cosmic mysteries in a single blog post, but I will say this much. In my own journey through pain I’ve come to believe that God always knew the world would break. He provided the Lamb before He planted the lethal tree. The cross preceded creation.

Why would He choose to do that? I’ve only been able to come up with one answer, and it’s simply this: God wants His people to go deep, and the deep things of God are hidden in redemption. This world was never meant to remain perfect. It was meant to be a potter’s wheel. A refiner’s fire. A place where mere men can be conformed to the image of Christ.

A couple of years ago a beautiful young woman, Jessica Teutsch, was killed in a head-on collision. She was in her last semester at a local college and on her way to her student teaching assignment when a young man pulled into her lane. He wasn’t drunk or texting or otherwise impaired. He was merely in a hurry and made a careless decision.

Jessica was a sweet, vibrant Christian, loved by her friends and family, respected by her professors, and the entire community grieved the tragedy. At times like this, age old questions rise to the surface. Why did God let this happen? If He’s truly sovereign, why didn’t He do something to prevent this seemingly senseless loss?

We may never fully understand, but if we’re willing to see, God gives us glimpses. Saturday’s paper ran a front-page article about the young man’s sentencing. It opens with these words:

Last Thursday’s sentencing hearing for Thomas Austin Blake, who was charged with the criminal negligence homicide of a 21-year-old girl, was more than just a hearing.

It ended up being an inspiring story of a family’s willingness to forgive in the midst of a storm. The compassion the family showed toward the defendant was so striking, it left a few, including some attorneys in attendance, wiping away tears.

“It was one of the most moving I’ve been involved in,” said 71st District Judge William Hughey.

The article is short and worth reading. It concludes with this:

“It was one of the most interesting cases I’ve dealt with, kind of taken away by the family,” (the judge) continued, impressed how the family comforted the defendant by trying to put him at ease and give him a sense of peace about the accident.

“They wanted him to do everything to move forward in life,” said Hughey.

Ms. Teutsch’s brother even presented Blake with a copy of a song he wrote in memory of his sister.

“They told the young man they didn’t have any hard feelings and wanted him to go forward in life,” said Hughey. “It was a really deep story on compassion and forgiveness.”

“The story there is you’re supposed to forgive,” said Hughey. “That says a lot.”

There’s no way anyone can plumb all the purposes of God in situations like this one, but I’m convinced with all my heart that redeeming power has been unleashed. The lives of the legal professionals in that courtroom, the lives of Jessica’s friends and family members, and the life of that young man will never be the same. And those lives will touch many more.

And as for Jessica? She left her brokenness on an East Texas country road and travels the holy highway of the redeemed. Everlasting joy is upon her head. She has obtained gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing have fled away.

The Lamb was provided before the tree. Jessica is whole, and we can be, too. Knowing we’re broken is the first step.

* * *

This post is part of Peter Pollock’s One Word at a Time Blog Carnival. The word is Broken. Stop by Peter’s site to read other posts or add your own.


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31 responses

11 01 2011
Helen

Wow. The grace Jessica’s loved ones showed is incredible.

11 01 2011
jeannedamoff

Isn’t it, though? Thanks for stopping by, Helen.

11 01 2011
Lisa notes...

“God made a breakable world.” Great title. Great middle. And great ending: “Knowing we’re broken is the first step.” Looking to the Healer…
Thanks for sharing.

11 01 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Lisa. And you’re welcome.

11 01 2011
katdish

You may not be a philosopher or theologian, but you’ve certainly ministered to me. Your gift of words just amazes me. Love you, my friend.

11 01 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Katdish. I’m so glad. Love you, too.

11 01 2011
Wendy

I’m not a fan of hard times, and I certainly would never ask for them, but I’m glad that God lets us learn through them. But really God? I wouldn’t mind learning a little less…

11 01 2011
jeannedamoff

I hear you, Wendy. Good thing we can trust God’s wisdom and goodness even in the hardest times. Thanks for stopping by!

11 01 2011
Patricia (Pollywog Creek)

Wow, Jeanne. Beautifully written, powerful, encouraging, uplifting message. Thank you. Thank you. Much love, Patricia

11 01 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Patricia. I’m so glad it encouraged you. Love to you, too.

11 01 2011
Duane Scott

I will echo what everyone else is saying. “Wow.”

Well written.

And the title… I’m so glad He made the world that way.

Because I like to watch Him heal.

11 01 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Duane. Redemption is beautiful, indeed.

12 01 2011
Arabah Joy

Jeanne, thank you for putting into words a wonderful, blessed truth. I will be on my knees today, thinking of “the cross before creation.” What an awesome God.

12 01 2011
jeannedamoff

You’re welcome, Arabah Joy! I’m grateful my words have drawn you closer to Him.

12 01 2011
shelg

Can’t wait to share this with my 11-year-old son…he wrestles so much with why Adam’s sin is his sin….I keep pointing him to the cross…but the wording here is excellent. Thank-you! We get so caught up in the pain…the justice…..on us….we forget to look further (but actually as you pointed out, the cross actually precedes creation) to our Savior….who paid it all! Delightful!

12 01 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, shelg. I hope and pray these words help your son in his struggle. How great that he’s asking these kinds of questions at eleven! God is faithful. Those who seek find — if not all the answers, then at least a sense of peace with the mystery. Grace to you both.

12 01 2011
Sarah

I’m still stuck on the title of your post. “Why God made a breakable world” As a mother of young children, I have often, of late, considered the fragility of life, and though I know in my head that there is a purpose, this phrase has helped my heart take it in. This is something I will be considering for a long time. For this family has given a great example of taking the brokenness and allowing God to put it back together. I guess my question is…how do we get around the fear of breaking further? How do we make that fact that there are broken things so that God can heal them and fuse them back together a part of our living? To get to the point where we are begging to be broken so that we can experience His healing? Thank you for this post.

12 01 2011
jeannedamoff

Dear Sarah, I imagine fear is every mother’s portion. You ask good, hard questions that I certainly am not qualified to answer. But I will share one thing God taught me that has made a huge difference for me: We can easily imagine hypothetical horrors, but we can’t appropriate hypothetical grace. God gives grace when it is needed and it transforms everything. We can’t imagine it. We can only receive it as a gift.

Perhaps it’s not about begging to be broken so much as simply realizing we already are. Healing will follow.

Love to you and your family,
Jeanne

12 01 2011
Sarah

I now have much to think about. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I know that we are all broken, but sometimes our brokenness sort of fits together like my toddler works puzzles. It’s obvious that it doesn’t really match, but it’s more work, more thought, more change to put it right, so it seems good enough. Sometimes it seems easier to live in the brokenness. But I know that means we are missing out on a whole lot of redemption.

13 01 2011
kirsten

I’ve been plumbing the depths of these and other questions since my infant son (our first child) died at 16 days old in early October. Reconciling the apparent discrepancy between our deep human pain and God’s goodness is a philosophical-theological question, and even if we receive an answer that satisfies the intellect as true, the heartache remains. It’s not so much that the answer doesn’t help at all — it does ease the mind that believes — but I came to see that what I really wanted was not the answer to the question so much as for Him to ease my heartache, to unbreak the world a little just for me, in short: to give me my son back.

In other words, I wanted Him to make an exception even though I couldn’t think of a single good reason why I should be spared what so many others suffer.

Gulp.

Even though He promises suffering over and over, I continue to be surprised at it when it comes and ask “Why, God? Why?”

Brokenness is painful and perplexing, and it is so redemptive — I’ve seen Ewan’s life and death purify not only my own soul, but so many others as well. This terrible ache acquaints me deeply with myself, and ever so much more deeply with the One who loved us enough that He spared Himself none of our pain.

Even with all the good I’ve seen come from it, my heart still aches and asks the questions. And so now I find myself trying to make peace with the mystery.

13 01 2011
jeannedamoff

Wow, Kirsten. I’m sitting here, staring at my computer screen, wishing I had words to ease your pain, yet knowing from my own experience the truth of your confession: “This terrible ache acquaints me deeply with myself, and ever so much more deeply with the One who loved us enough that He spared Himself none of our pain.”

Thank you. I’m humbled by your story, your honesty, and your faith. Making peace with the mystery. Grant it, Lord. And may our God’s redemptive grace fill every crack and crevice in your broken heart, dear Kirsten.

Much love to you,
Jeanne

13 01 2011
Hazel I. Moon

An awesome post! Yes, God did forsee that this world would be broken, and Yes he did provide the redemption even before Eve helped herself to the forbidden fruit. Until Jesus returns, there will be sickness, death, sorrow, brokenness, and our questions Why? may never be answered on this earth. He says the secrets are hidden in God alone and some day He will reveal those answers.

14 01 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Hazel!

13 01 2011
Tiffani Rathbun

I have been completely wrecked by this post for the last couple days. Not because I haven’t thought of these things before or been through painful experiences where I had to choose to believe in the goodness and redemption of God. And certainly not because I have been given the gift of a trusting heart and simple faith and have had my eyes suddenly open. No, I have been wrestling with this because I desperately want it to not be true. I want the innocence of the Garden, not the wisdom of Redemption. I want the fresh skin of a newborn on my soul, not the scars of brokenness and healing. And, really, more than anything, I want this for the people I love.

Jesus does promise sorrow and suffering and no one can evade this Truth for long. But I like how another blogger put it too: “The kingdom of Darkness is being destroyed by the Kingdom of Light and none of us can escape being affected by the carnage.”

Thanks for posting this….I will be thinking about this and sharing it with my community for a while, I’m sure.

14 01 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Tiffani, for your thoughtfulness and honesty. I know the feeling — recognizing the wisdom and beauty of redemption, but wishing we could be conformed to Christ’s image without all the groaning and labor, or “being affected by the carnage” as your quote so aptly expresses it. May we have the grace to trust God’s ways as much as we trust God Himself.

14 01 2011
Beth Werner Lee

So good, so good.

I often wondered, relatedly, why he gave us free choice. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could just obey, be good, without all the work? But in my wondering I realized he gets more glory out of willing happy obedience…and then I had a kid, and boy oh boy is it sweet when she obeys me because she loves me! I want to be that kinda kid more often (not that she always is, don’t get me wrong) with Father God.

14 01 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Beth! I want to be that kid, too! :)

16 01 2011
Jen Harris

You have said so beautifully what God has been teaching me through deep valleys in the last few years…and what He has been reminding me of all this weekend! Thank you for sharing this…I would like to link to it in an upcoming blog post, if that is okay.

16 01 2011
jeannedamoff

You’re welcome, Jen. I would be delighted and honored for you to link to this post. Blessings on your journey.

21 01 2011
deb@talk at the table

Jeanne,

I’ll admit that I can sometimes obsess in the dark hours over how I will “handle” a personal tragedy. I ‘ve worked hard to be who I am. To overcome my broken. It’s all good now thank you very much. I worry that when and if and suddenly I will be bitter and full of rage and take to my bed and obsess in darkness. Or wither and die.

( and thank you for being someone I trust enough to share that truth with)

22 01 2011
jeannedamoff

I’m glad you trust me enough, Deb. I know obsessing and worry are not easily banished, but I always read grace in your words. I pray what is only a worry will vanish like mist, and “when and if and suddenly” you will be full of faith and will flourish. And I believe you will, because God will infuse Himself into your darkness, and wherever He is, there is light.

Much love, Jeanne

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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