This Tuesday, I was standing on the T (Boston’s subway system) literally engulfed in a sea of people. If you have ever taken the T at 5 pm rush hour, you know the feeling. As I was standing there I looked around, and I saw a man standing with what appeared to be his two sons. His eyes were red and puffy, and he looked as if he had been crying; clearly, something was wrong.
I don’t know why this man was hurting, but he obviously was. I looked around again and was overwhelmed by the depth of hurt and suffering that I am sure each and every individual standing on the T had experienced at some point. So many people; so many stories. The girl with the headphones on her ears; the man reading a book in the corner; the woman that was sleeping; the woman that was reading; the boy staring out the window – all of us; united by the experience of pain. It occurred to me just how broken we really are.
Broken dreams. Broken hopes. Broken promises. Broken hearts. Broken lives. Broken families. Truly, a broken people. It is in moments like these that I see how truly broken I am.
How often we have been betrayed, lied to, and ignored. We see the people we love the most battling diseases and illness that whittle them down to desperate weakness. The injustices of abuse and murder are constant reminders of the world we live in. In our world, it appears that injustice reigns. Not only does the world attempt to break us from the outside, our tendency to sin and to fear breaks us from the inside. We are crippled.
(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became crippled. His name was Mephibosheth.) ~2 Samuel 4:4
David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.” “Where is he?” the king asked. Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.” So King David had him fetched from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, “Mephibosheth!…I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table, and he was crippled in both feet. 2 Samuel 9
Mephibosheth came from a line of descendants of Saul that had been earmarked for death. Furthermore he was living in Lo Debar, which means “no pasture” in the house of Machir, which means “sold.” He was lame and therefore could not work. He inherited nothing but poverty and death from his family. Yet we see in this story that he is called by King David even though he is undeserving, and we see that it is in his brokenness we witness the power of grace. Notice that we are told that he had to be fetched. This is such a beautiful concept that marvelously tells the story of God’s grace to us. Mephibosheth had done nothing to merit the kindness shown to him. Nor was he able to even get himself to the table. He was crippled and unable. He had to be carried to King David’s table.
In this story I see God’s grace despite my lack of gratitude. More than that, however, I see that God’s grace is manifested in the very fact that I am crippled. It is not simply that as believers we are seated at the Lord’s Table; rather, it is the very fact that we are allowed to come to the table even in our brokenness that makes our story so unique. Like Mephibosheth we are carried, and it is in our inability and God’s ability that we are able to glimpse the grace of God. Even in our brokenness, we, like Mephibosheth are allowed to sit where we clearly don’t belong.
Remember that Jesus’ most divine act was not complete until he was broken. It is in Jesus’ brokenness we experience the fullness of God’s grace. So, too, can God take our brokenness and use it to display His power.
Suffering brings us to our knees, often revealing the core of what lies under the image we portray to the world. It exposes our vulnerability and the condition of our hope. When we are most broken, the true strength that supports us is manifested in a clarity that would it would otherwise not be. The weaker we are, the more we are forced to lean on Jesus. Where there is sorrow, there will be misery. But, when there is misery, there will also be grace. This grace will sustain.
Will you be faithful or will you be faithless? When you are broken and exposed, what will those watching see: your despair, or God’s grace?