I heard a quote from a poem in Franz Wright’s Walking to Martha’s Vineyard that has really impacted me lately:
“When Moses conversed with God, he asked the Lord, ‘Where should I seek you?’
God answered, “Among the brokenhearted.”
Moses continued, “But Lord, no heart can be more despairing than mine.”
And God replied, ‘Then I am where you are.’”
I’m particularly struck by two things. The first is the simple reminder that God is particularly with us at the times of feeling the most despair and the most brokenhearted. He’s especially with the couple desperately trying to have children only to have miscarriages. He’s especially with my daughter who is still struggling with crippling fear and anxiety that I thought would have been long worked through. He’s especially with my parents when they get diagnoses that feel scary and remind all of us of our own frailty. He’s especially with a friend going on hospice as his wife stands beside him with tears of utter pain, sorrow and exhaustion to be saying goodbye to her partner of over 50 years (and these are all circumstances I’ve experienced in the past month). God’s promise is that he is especially with the brokenhearted and those of us in despair and for that I’m grateful.
I wish I could say that I believed that without any skepticism or doubt. While I know it to be true, it doesn’t always feel like that in our darkest moments. It certainly doesn’t make sense when we’re in the midst of pain and going through hard things or seeing those around us in despair. Often it is only when we get through it can we look back and see how God was working in and through us, using that pain to soften us or create us to be more empathetic or stronger in ways we wished we wouldn’t have had to grow in.
The second thing that quote makes me ponder is where Jesus spent his time. If he spent his time with those who are the most brokenhearted and in despair, how does he see that? How does he stay in tune with and connect to other people’s pain and suffering? How does he notice the people and their most desperate moments that many of us would almost certainly miss (Zacchaeus, the bleeding woman, Samaritan woman at the well…etc.)? It seems like it’s something that we should be paying attention to if Jesus says “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3). How would that change my own eyes to see people’s wounds, just like my own, and see them through the lens of God, saturated in His grace and love?
What an amazing gift that even when we don’t have it together and feel at our worst or that things can’t or won’t ever get better, even our darkest days full of pain—that’s where the heart of God is. Even more than that, we have the opportunity each day to see people with those same eyes of Jesus – to be present to those around us who are also broken and in despair. And somehow in this upside down Kingdom, it’s the brokenness that draws us closer to the heart of the Father and to each other.