Strength or Brokenness

Shortly after Joel’s arrest, I watched the movie, “A Mighty Heart” which is based on the true story of the abduction and murder of Daniel Pearl, a  journalist who was pursuing a story in Pakistan. The movie was about his wife’s response to this horrifying event. She was pregnant with their first child, when her husband suddenly disappeared.   At first no one knew if he had actually been kidnapped, and then when that was confirmed there was great concern about negotiating a release. Everything his wife hoped for was stripped away when the terrorists who had abducted her husband sent a video of his brutal murder at their hands. The movie highlighted how these events had helped her to become a stronger, more compassionate, and dignified person through the process of suffering.

As I watched that movie, I identified with her pain and the way she chose to handle it. She rarely cried in front of other people; she remained calm and handled even the most disastrous moments with dignity. I could see myself in her reactions.

At the end of the movie, she offered a moving monologue about how she did not hold a grudge against the people of Pakistan, and how she had learned to be a stronger person through the tragedy.

I was left with the question, “She and I look so much alike in a tragedy, and yet she did not have God. She was not a believer.  Can human nature actually grow through pain and achieve a new kind of beauty in the process?” Ultimately I asked God, genuinely and without guile, “What difference do You really make? If, without You, she became a stronger person, what difference do You really make?”

“That woman became stronger through her pain. She grew more independent and self-sufficient through the agony.” God told me. “If that is what you’re looking for, then you can do that on your own. I’ve put free will in the heart of every human being. You can exercise that freedom in developing your own independence. But if that’s not enough for you, then I AM.”

I was stunned to see the contrast. Suddenly it seemed so obvious. God was working towards brokenness, and if I was working towards dignity and personal strength, then He and I were not striving for the same end.

On the outside both ends might look similar. God desires to fill me with the grace to live in the joy of His presence in spite of present circumstances. At a passing glance this might look like dignity and strength, but a closer assessment will reveal that it is really brokenness. In contrast to dignity and strength, living a life of brokenness means constant reliance on a Strength outside of myself. It is characterized by an unceasing awareness of my own frailty, and subsequent need for God.


5 Responses to "Strength or Brokenness"

  • Beautiful. Thank you.

    1 Mollyana said this (July 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm) Reply


  • I think this is one of the most powerful pieces of your story! That brokenness is what allows all the rest to happen, the unbelievable forgiveness and love, the strength to go on each day, the ability to be joyful in the mourning… Thank you for allowing your brokenness so that all that beauty would shine through the “holes”! Love you, friend!!

    2 Joy said this (July 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm) Reply


    • For me, I think this was one of the most surprising pieces of the puzzle of God’s grace in my life, to date. I can’t believe I didn’t know the difference, but I really didn’t. When God spoke into my life the beauty of brokenness, and showed me the veiled pride of dignity in the midst of painful circumstances, I was stunned. I guess I am a bit of a blockhead. But thanks be to God…He pursues us relentlessly.

      3 Tabitha Joy said this (July 27, 2011 at 7:43 am) Reply


  • Amen, sister! “He pursues us relentlessly”… what an amazing promise!

    4 Joy said this (July 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm) Reply


  • Oh, and I am certainly a “blockhead” too – maybe that’s why the brokeness is such a necessary part of the good He desires to give us….

    5 Joy said this (July 27, 2011 at 8:47 pm) Reply


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