I’m gonna be honest. Life has been rough lately. It’s been pain-filled. It’s been ever so trying on my heart and on my soul. The past few months have been entirely too full of countless, unbearable days. That’s hard for me to admit. I would so much rather tell you I’m fine – that life is good and God has granted me some great, healthy days. But in reality, I just feel… broken. My body, my heart, my soul feel wounded & shattered. Pain takes such a tole on us, doesn’t it? With every pain filled step, I am reminded how fragile our bodies actually are, always changing and ever surprising. For example, a few months ago, I got out of bed only to feel shooting pain in my foot. I looked down to find it swollen, black and blue. I really thought it was fractured, by no fault of my own. I felt I had woken up broken.
My heart is crying for rest, for relief in this pain-filled storm. But, while I cry for a reprieve, I find my Lord is asking one thing of me in this – to praise Him. Praise Him? How can we do that when we are suffering so intensely? What would that even look like? In the middle of my darkest moments, my Lord so gently brings one song to my mind. A song that reminds me even though I don’t know His plan, I can bring my brokenness to Him and always sing His praise – even if it is a Broken Hallelujah.
You usually hear of people shouting “Hallelujah” as a happy, joyful shout of praise. People say hallelujah when someone has been healed, when God sends us something we can only explain as a miracle, or even when we find our car keys after frantically searching the whole house. But shouting Hallelujah when we are crushed in spirit, sore in body, when our lives are just plain broken? Sounds easier than it is, doesn’t it?
But that’s exactly what God is calling me to do. He has taken my comfort, my full hands, my own strength, and stripped them away. The pain from that depravity can be gut-wrenching, but now my heart, broken from my pain-filled circumstance, is ready to piece back together. And dear one, God is the only one who knows how to piece them back together. He knows the end picture He wants to make out of our lives, and so carefully and gently pieces our hearts back together, but in a completely different pattern. What was once here, He may now place there. What was once forgotten may now be brought to our mind. Why? Because he wants to perfectly piece us together to be more like Him and less like our former selves. We are being sanctified, made holy and set apart, from our former identity. But that is only made possible through our newly broken, depleted hearts.
Even broken, we are called to praise. I have to constantly remind myself of this and I fail miserably, all too many times. I want to rejoice and be grateful in the storm, but when I am broken, my flesh tends to kick in. Before I know it, pain has shut out everyone I love and I have even allowed it to sound-proof my heart from His truth. But then, in His faithfulness, when I least expect it, God seeps His love and quiet beconing through those 10″ thick walls I have secluded my heart in. For me, it’s usually the words of a song that crash those walls down. In His goodness, He used my daughter at our church’s performing arts day camp this summer to reveal guidance. As my baby stood there and sang about making broken things beautiful, tears stung my eyes. Yes, I fought back tears because I was so proud of her fearlessness on that stage, but also because my own baby was singing my wounded heart’s song. It awakened me to see that broken hallelujahs can turn us into something brokenly beautiful.
He wants to change us in our pain to make us see things through new lenses, which can be painful in itself. But praising our Lord, in good days as well as bad, strengthens our trust in Him amidst our storms. These past few months, God has removed the teetering ledge I was so strongly gripping to, and revealed His strong foothold beneath me, which had been there all along. I just needed to change my outlook and turn my sights on Him instead of my circumstances.
No matter the pain, no matter the tear stained cheeks, no matter the broken heart, He is worthy to be praised. He has not left me and He has not left you! Removing our eyes from our storms and placing them where they should be, on our loving, mercy-filled Father, is our calling. Even if you woke up broken this day, God is waiting to hear from you. And guess what? I just have a feeling He loves the beauty that comes from a broken hallelujah.
“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” 2 Corinthians 1:5-6 NIV