The Broken Bless

 

Over the past seven years I have found myself bruised, broken, torn, bewildered, lonely, facing no answer to medical concerns, blanketed with the weight of depression, laying in a hospital bed undergoing back surgery in a foreign country, bombarded with panic attacks, gaining weight despite a healthful diet plan and 2 hour work-outs at the gym, getting the news that my mother had a heart attack and I was too far away to hold her hand or be present by her hospital bed, hearing the news that my son would not be released from prison- yet again, watching my husband bear the load of watching me have seizures on long-haul plane flights, being far from my home country when my younger brother had a stroke, experiencing my body go completely numb within three days’ time and having no answers after medical testing was done, saying hard good-byes to dear friends who I may never see again this side of heaven, missing out on births, weddings and the death of loved ones, walking a long valley of isolation and feeling the tremendous overbearing weight of the dark night of the human soul.

At times it felt like too much to bear. And I am sure that I frequently mentioned that to the Lord in my prayer journal.

It wasn’t that joy wasn’t sprinkled-brightly, in-between these great sorrows, losses or disappointments; but today as I re-think this journey of my life I am reminded of this thought. The broken bless!

Opportunity through brokenness

Those who are broken have a tremendous opportunity to use their brokenness as a means to gift others with; their empathy, compassion, mercy, understanding of pain, loss, bereavement, trial, difficulties and great sorrows.

As I look back at these past years I can easily see the dark, frayed and broken strands of my life; but I also see a tremendous gift that God has given me through these trials. Through the school of brokenness, I can greet others with mercy and compassion. I can withhold my judgmental voice because; “just maybe”, they too are wading through murky, rough waters.

There are no schools that give certificates or degrees for brokenness; but I believe that our Lord showed us most clearly that when we embrace our brokenness, we can become a healing balm to those around us.

Called into brokenness

As believers, Christ Himself calls us into brokenness. We each have the choice to curse, or to embrace our suffering; which then becomes the means in which we experience more of Christ Himself.

In our brokenness we draw nearer to the cross of Christ as we identify with His suffering. Through identifying with Christ, we see that our suffering has meaning and purpose.  

Only the Broken Can Bless

 

Only the broken can bless

Only the bruised can heal

Only despised and rejected ones

Truly know how it feels

 

Those praying in vain for relief

Relieve pain wherever they go

Those stumbling, bearing their cross

Best lift up the head weighed low

 

Chorus:

So take me into your arms

Lord, help me to make it through

There is nobody else who has suffered so much

To love me the way you do.

 

Only a love sacrifice

Is worthy of the name

Only a heart wrung out of life

Can make dead hearts beat again

 

Only the broken can bless

Only the bruised can heal

Only despised and rejected ones

Truly know how it feels

 

Chorus:

So take me into your arms

Lord, help me to make it through

There is nobody else who has suffered so much

To love me the way you do.

 

I’ve been broken so I can bless

I’ve been bruised to help you heal

Since I’ve been despised and rejected

I think I know how you feel

 

Chorus:

So come to my Savior’s arms

We will help you to make it through

There is nobody else who has suffered so much

To love you the way we do.

Written by: David J. Weaver

Used with permission

 

Author and missionary David J. Weaver says; “It is not enough that we identify with each other’s suffering. We must identify our suffering ultimately with Christ’s suffering if our suffering is to have meaning and purpose. Only by making that connection do we see our suffering as a means to God’s saving end in another person’s life.

When we see each line of the poem (*above) speaking of Christ, then we can see each line that speaks to our suffering – as having a specific purpose as well. Then, for the joy before us, we will endure our cross, despise its pain, and let God resurrect us as wounded healers of others.”

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV

Pause and Reflect:

Does your life carry with it a litany of bumps and bruises? Are you currently journeying through the valley of desolation? Is your pain so intense that you can’t see any way through it?

  • Can you see any parallels between your suffering and the suffering of Christ’s brokenness?

Christ’s pain was never wasted, it was offered up as a gift of life and redemption to all mankind.

  • What do you think it means to not waste your pain?

We waste our pain when we use it to curse God.

We waste our pain when we allow our desolation to bring us to the brink of despair.

We waste our pain when we turn our hearts against God, not realizing that our pain is a means for God to be glorified in our lives.

We waste our pain when we don’t use it as opportunity to be drawn to God and see that His power can do the impossible!

 

As we walk through the valley of suffering, we have a choice, we can either curl inward; not allowing God to use our brokenness as a channel in which His holy love can shine, or, we can use it as a means of the healing power of God to bring us to a place of reflecting His glory through praise and thanksgiving.  

Linda Jane Dingeldein: Different by Design

 

We can allow the touch of God to change us and use our brokenness to reveal Christ to others who need comfort and healing.

When Christ power shines through our brokenness, our pain will be used to draw mankind to Christ. The world will see the power of God work in the unbearable, impossibilities of our lives, and know that their brokenness can have purpose as well.

Prayer 

God, it’s not easy to endure suffering. I pray that I will have a heart of gratitude even when I am walking through difficulties, disappointments and trials. May my attitude towards suffering allow others to see your goodness and be drawn to You. May I use my brokenness as a means in which I can identify with the loss, pain and bereavement of others; and come along side of them with comfort, encouragement and grace.

God, your pain was not wasted. You offered up yourself as a means of redeeming all mankind to Christ. May my life be a living witness that also draws others to the redeeming work of Christ.

Give to me the opportunity to share my suffering, and the courage to enter the suffering of others. May my brokenness become a means to listen well, identify and bless others; and mostly of all, to glorify Your name.  

In Jesus Merciful Name. Amen

Linda Jane Dingeldein: Different by Design
Photography by Linda Jane Dingeldein

 

Linda Jane Dingeldein applauds the majesty of God shown in the fall foliage of Warren, Pennsylvania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing God is Enough In The Hard Places of Life

God is Enough 

During a recent visit to Hong Kong my husband Joel and I attended an English-speaking Chinese church where two years prior we had spent a short season of ministry.

As we walked through the church doors, we immediately felt welcomed by the love of this sweet assembly of Chinese believers.

One particularly welcoming friend was Ruth. As I write this I can still hear the lilt of joy in her voice and feel the warm embrace of Ruth’s hug. It was this Sunday that I would begin to hear the beginning of Ruth’s story. Later I would email her and begin to connect-the-dots of a small part of Ruth’s life and on-going legacy.

Ruth had been raised in a Christian home and was brought to church at a very young age.

In the eighth grade, Ruth committed herself to Jesus. Later her university years would take her to Washington and afterwards back to Hong Kong to work at a local TV station. Along with her work at TVB, she became a disc jockey for Hong Kong Commercial Radio.

During her time with Commercial Radio, Ruth was asked to participate in singing for an album that the radio station was producing. In doing so, her songs became hits and landed her in signing with a record label.

“Singing has always been a way for expressing myself, so I never made it a career. Instead it has always been a major interest.” Ruth states.

After some years of working in the radio field, Ruth Chen was called to help a Christian organization; Association of Christian Musicians (ACM). It was ACM’s desire that Ruth help them to start, promote, sing and produce contemporary Cantonese Christian songs that would later became some of the most popular songs for local churches and fellowships. 

At this time in Ruth’s life, anyone would say that she had it all! Yet deep inside for Ruth, she found that something was lacking. As she faced a season of depression she knew that something was missing in her life.

She had Christ in her life; but she was still left wanting more – to feel fulfilled, validated and satisfied.

Is God enough?

It was during this time that Ruth felt God asking her, “Am I not enough for you?”

It was in answering this probing spiritual question that Ruth was able to find consolation and peace from her depression. Today Ruth praises God that He healed her of this dark season of depression.

After the birth of her son, Ruth wanted to work from home. Using her musical gifting she began to teach singing from her home studio. God richly blessed this career as many famous singers both locally, and throughout Asia came to Ruth for training. She continues this career even today.

Another difficult season came unannounced in Ruth’s life when in 2006 she was faced with the hard diagnosis of breast cancer. As she courageously went through all the usual treatments of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, she felt that God’s love was so tangible towards her.

The Immensity of God’s Love

The immensity of God’s love caused Ruth to do what she does best, write and sing of God’s greatness! Ruth released a gospel album entitle; Recovered, which gives hope to those struggling through physical pain. The release of Recovered, opened new doors for Ruth to travel to different countries to share her testimony both verbally and musically.  

During her years of travel, Ruth came to the realization that there is an invisible illness that needs special attention. To her, this illness is even worse than cancer. She notes that this illness is deeply evident even within the local church and because of this she released her second album, Embrace, dedicated to all who are facing the emotional struggle of depression.

Ruth continues to tour and share her spoken testimony and songs wherever God directs her.

The songs from her album Embrace, were written from Ruth’s personal experience to let people know that recovery from depression is a long, difficult process; but there is always hope from God.

The Voice of Authenticity

During the Sunday morning service that we recently attended, Ruth shared with vulnerable authenticity of her struggles with depression and then sang Today I Can’t Get Up, from her Album Embrace.

As I listened to the delicate, rich beauty of Ruth’s voice my heart identified and resonated deeply with her message; as I too have gone through seasons of dark depression.

Recently I had been personally pondering the very same question that Ruth felt God was challenging her heart with. “Am I not enough for you?”

After the service I shared with Ruth that I had lived on the other end of the continuum. I had not grown up as a celebrity or a star. My giftedness was not front-lined, and I often stood in the shadows. Yet I too longed, for the praise and applause of those around me. I yearned for someone to look my way and see something of value and worth in me, but I kept coming up with a deep sense of lack and longing.

It made me realize that it doesn’t matter what side of the ocean we come from. As women we will continually find ourselves lacking if we do not allow God to ask us this one deeply pointed question; “Am I not enough for you?”

Ruth and I are two different women, coming from two different walks of life, yet we both long to be enough. But Christ is not asking that we find our value in ourselves, in others praise, or in what we do; but in Him alone.

Is Christ enough to fill the void in your heart? A heart filled with longing. A heart that yearns to be thought of as someone of value and worth? Are His words enough? Words that call you His Beloved Daughter. Precious. The apple of His eye. Chosen. Adopted. Redeemed.

Loved in the Broken Places of Life

These are all words of belonging. Words that show that Christ has sought us out and He wants us, and loves us unconditionally.  Christ comes toward us, even in the broken, shattered places of our lives, and He looks at us with His tender eyes filled with love. A love that does not need to be earned; because Christ’s love is free, full and satisfying.

As we step out and learn to know ourselves, we will begin to discover that none of this is about us. Knowing ourselves is all about growing in closer intimacy with Jesus Christ. Through our relationship with Jesus Christ we will learn to embrace the person He has created us to be.

Jesus Christ looks at us with eyes of love. Because of the depth of His love for us, He laid down His life freely for us.

As women we can live out of our true design with freedom; because Jesus Christ created us with value, purpose and uniquely Different by His Design.

All of this was done so that our lives would reflect His radiant glory to the world around us!

Personal Reflection:

  • Are there areas in your life that you have felt that God was not been enough for you? Stop right now and ask God to be all that you need in these difficult areas of your life.
  • As you continue to learn to know your unique God-designed self, what is one way that you can grow in deeper intimacy with God this week?

Prayer:

God, you are the light of the world. Help me to remember this when I feel like I am walking in a very dark place of discouragement, despair and depression.

Teach me to put my trust in You so that I will not fear these times of darkness and confusion.

God, help me not to mask what I feel but enable me to call on you when I feel troubled. I know that you will always rescue me. Help me to cast all my anxieties upon you God, knowing that you care deeply for me.

God, thank you that you go before me and will always be with me. You will never leave or forsake me. I do not need to be afraid or discouraged. You will always deliver me from all my troubles. Amen

*The above prayer is taken from the following scriptures.  (John 8:12; John 12:36; Psalm 50:15; Deuteronomy 31:8; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Psalm  43:17)

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.”

Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)

 

*submitted with permission from Ruth Chen’s album Embrace

Today I can’t get up

今天我起不了床

I cannot get out of bed today

今天我看不見光

Today, I can’t see the light

那黑洞已吞沒了我

I’ve been swallowed up by that dark pit

今天我看不到祢

I can’t see You today

今天我沒有力氣

I’ve lost all my strength

快樂已把我放棄

Happiness has forsaken me

祢在哪𥚃?

Where are You?

沒力氣找袮

I’ve lost my strength to find You

忘記了我,是嗎?

Have you forgotten me?

不喜歡自己

I don’t like myself

不想呼吸

I don’t want even want to breathe

祢在哪裡?

Where are You?

今天我起不了床

I cannot get out of bed today

今天我還是看不見光

I still can’t see the light today

但那黑洞沒有吞沒我

But the dark pit did not swallowed me whole

今天我感覺到袮

I can feel Your presence today

袮開始給我力氣

You have begun to give me strength

絕望已把我離棄

Despair has left me

祢就在這𥚃

You are right here with me

袮沒有放棄

You have not given up on me

從來沒有忘記

You have never forgotten me

我不能逃避

I can’t run from you

袮就住我心裡

You live inside of me

袮跟我永遠不分離

We will never separate

祢是我的唯一

You are the only One for me

我只能依靠袮

All I can do is to depend on You

 

Linda Jane Dingeldein: Different by Design celebrates the women at Hong Kongs Flower Market who arrange and showcase works of fragrant beauty.