Archives For brokenhearted

One Heck of a Week

Erik Cooper —  January 10, 2011 — 1 Comment

Last week was difficult, I’m not gonna lie.

The perfect blend of emotional soup.  Moments of pure elation followed by waves of fear and sadness. Like your favorite football team just took the lead on a 50 yard field goal only to lose it 53 seconds later as time expired ending their season (wait, that really happened didn’t it?).

Here’s a little recap and a few thoughts (if you’re interested):

THURSDAY:

My 5 year old son, Austin, gets a miraculous medical report.  Born with optic nerve hypoplasia, doctor’s originally warned of potential blindness or even brain development issues.  Thursday’s doctor visit confirmed the continued positive progression we’ve been seeing in his recent visual development. Both eyes have slowly corrected to 30/20, what our ophthalmologist terms “normal” visual range for his age.  We celebrated the answer to years of prayer.

(He’s keeping the glasses though. They’re just too stylish).

FRIDAY:

My wife, driving our daughter to her evening basketball practice, loses control of the car on an unsalted stretch of icy road. The front end of our little Chevy Cobalt is torn off by a swerving pickup truck, her driver side door t-boned by a 15 passenger van. Thankfully, extreme bruising and a few terrifying dreams seem to be the only residual damage (Well, besides ol’ orange. She’s driven her last mile). A few inches either way and I could easily be typing this as a single father of two.

SATURDAY:

My brother and sister in-law move to Houston, and an early morning breakfast goodbye turned a bit more emotional than we had originally planned.  We celebrate their new adventure, but already feel the painful sting of their absence. My daughter’s tears did me in, although after the previous days accident I was just grateful she was there to shed them.

So as Saturday drew to a (Colts-losing) close, this triple cocktail of human emotions had us ready to curl up under a warm blanket and hide from the world. God seemed to be so evident on Thursday. What happened?

I think there’s an unfortunate tendency to miss God in the pain of life. To think His nature is only expressed through our happily ever afters. The easily explained. The comfortable. The positive doctor’s reports.

And I think that cheapens God. Turns Him into a servant of us.

God never promised life would be without pain. Easy to explain. That your favorite team would always be ahead when the final buzzer sounds.

But He did promise He’d always be with us.  That He would never leave us or forsake us. That He would be near to the brokenhearted.

So I’m learning to see Him everywhere.  In medical healings, ugly car crashes, and sad goodbyes.

Yep, there He is.

I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon at the hospital, visiting a friend of a friend who is quite possibly (barring a miracle) approaching the end of his days here on earth.  Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable as a pastor. More sober. More powerless.

In these moments, I find myself wishing God was a formula. Give $30 to the charity of your choice, recite this pre-written prayer, and read Leviticus (surely if you can get through Leviticus there’s a prize), and God will heal. Every time. The formula says so.

But God’s not a formula.  His response isn’t always predictable. We don’t manipulate His sovereignty.

There’s only one thing I can attest to: whether I’m in a Honduran slum, a shelter for battered women, or a dying man’s hospital room, God’s presence is always so tangible among the brokenhearted.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18 NLT

God never promised life would be easy. That it would make sense.  That our formulas for trying to explain Him would always reconcile.  But He did promise He would always be near. That He would never leave us. That He would be close to the brokenhearted.

Goodbye Maddie

Erik Cooper —  June 23, 2010 — 6 Comments

If God is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), then He’s certainly taken up residence in our house today.

Yesterday, our neighbors of 10 years loaded a truck and relocated 8 hours away to southern Missouri, victims of a recession-driven job loss here in Indy.  I know I know, lots of neighbors move.  But aboard that giant truck was their 13 year old daughter, who over the last decade felt like she had become ours as well.

Maddie went everywhere with us. Came in and out of the house without knocking.  And even though our families are from starkly different faith traditions, she became an older sister to my kids.  None of them remember life before Maddie.

Now she’s gone.

Skype calls and text messaging will never replace the beauty of proximity, and now an empty two-story house sits as a constant reminder that we never really were in control of this life anyway.

Holding my sobbing little girl yesterday afternoon was an all-too-real incarnation of this harsh reality:

Directly or indirectly, relationships will hurt you.

The pain is raw.  And like a candle that has been extinguished, the temptation is to let the wax get hard, to coat over and encapsulate our vulnerabilities so we never feel this way again.  To stop loving.  Because with love comes the potential for great pain.

It’s easier to stop caring. To stop entrusting.  To stop pursuing.  To stop risking.

To stop living.

When we instinctively avoid our pain, we unknowingly compress our joy.  We don’t just stop feeling the hurt, we stop feeling at all. We become calloused.  Hollow.  Lifeless.  We think it’s safer there among the “dead.” And that’s a battle I’m not willing to let my children lose.

So goodbye Maddie.  Whether our lives are separated by a wooden privacy fence or 500 miles of interstate highway, you’ll always be a part of our family.  The joy of your presence was more than worth the pain of your absence.

Today we willingly embrace them both.