I felt the tears coming as my phone buzzed repeatedly. In between stashing clothes in boxes for an impending move, I’d been checking my phone for the text messages coming in fast and furiously from a friend. Instead of stopping by to see me one last time, as we had talked about, she was leveling accusations at me regarding something I’d done months before that had offended her. I was blindsided.
And as I desperately tried to “fix” the relationship by apologizing for the unintentional offense and trying to explain myself, I seemed to be making the situation worse. After about an hour of back-and-forth texts, we ended on a polite note, but I was shattered. A friendship that I had invested much of my heart and time into seemed to be in shambles. And I couldn’t fix it.
I hate not being able to fix things. That tension that no matter what I do, I can’t make something right. It’s a helpless feeling. And yet I wake up every single day to reminders that so many things in this world are broken. Reports of violent attacks, the loss of innocent lives, an unpromising election cycle, not to mention the broken relationships I regularly encounter on a personal level. At times, fear and hate and brokenness seem to reign, and I have no idea what to do about it.
As I was recently reading in the book of Jeremiah, I related to the prophet’s angst and desperation as he viewed the brokenness around him: Kings who refused to follow God, people whose hearts were far from Him and the inevitable judgment and destruction of Jerusalem. These were dark times for God’s chosen people. But even after the worst had happened — the people were scattered, Jerusalem was burned, Israel lost its “Promised Land”—Jeremiah affirms God’s ability to fix things.
Instead of only calling for God to fix the physical brokenness of Israel, Jeremiah asks for something deeper. “Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored!” (Lamentations 5:21). When the hopelessly broken confronts me, do I offer this same prayer? Do I ask God to restore me to Himself so restoration might begin to happen around me? In my relationships? In my faith community? In my world?
As much as it’s uncomfortable to linger in the broken, it’s a reality of life. As Paul says, the world groans. And many days I groan right along with it. Sometimes the only thing I can do is to trust the One who holds all of the pieces and knows how to put them back together. One day, Jesus will restore all things. Until then, some things will never be fixed, and that’s okay. Because even in the brokenness, God is still at work.
This morning I texted my friend for the first time since our tense conversation.
“Just wanted to say that I love you.”
A few minutes later my phone buzzed: “Love you too, Suzanne.”