Psalm 51:17: “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

We break ground to build something new. Everybody is familiar with the concept of change, which requires saying goodbye to one thing to make room for another. Always easier said than done, isn’t it? Especially when we’re not ready to let go!

Goodbyes may hurt, but life is impossible to live without changes. If we cannot leave when it’s time to go then we cannot change anything, and who wants to be stuck eternally in yesteryear? Suppose we held on to the earliest version of ourselves (which is next to impossible), this would not only be counterproductive, but also very unhealthy, not to mention deadly as we would be giving up on living.

We once had a young pet, our little cat Malinka, who got involved in an accident, which left her with just a few more hours to live. Malinka died during the night before we could see our veterinarian. Animals know when it’s time to go. Malinka crawled into our bedroom corner and didn’t want anybody near. Staying in that same corner without ever changing position she breathed her last at around 3 o’clock in the morning.

I don’t know about you, but I’m extremely anxious when I feel cornered or stuck, and I know the minute I give up and resign myself to this imaginary corner I’m really on death row; I need to keep fighting to still have a fighting chance!

When we feel that our life has been turned upside down and we cannot make heads or tails of anything, we have to remember that soil is also turned upside down – and why? To make room for the new seed! As we’re going through disaster it’s all a puzzle to us, but brokenness is no reason to give up. Brokenness is a reason to look up, and to do so with genuine hope.

Among the 66 books of the Bible, the book of Psalms has always stood out to me. Similar to a cry room in a public building, where people take their babies or small children for privacy reasons, that’s how God’s children take their worries and cares into their personal prayer closet. As people pray and pour out their hearts to the Lord, the entire range of human emotions is on display. Venting to the Lord is the best therapy when it comes to brokenness and pain. God has always been very close to the brokenhearted. As a matter of fact, He’s closest when we’re at our lowest. He is right there with us when we need Him most, whether we can feel His presence or not (Psalm 34:18):

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Instead of trying to piece it all together on our own, let’s protect our sanity by letting God catch our broken pieces. We’re safe in His hands. Let Him heal our wounds, work with us through our pain, and help us in our distress.  He can heal us, and help us to forgive and let go.  Broken in God’s hands, He can mend us so we can rise again and embrace a new tomorrow.

Broken world
Broken dreams
Alone in the crowd
Unspoken fears
Unspoken anger
Just acting out
Can’t see the light in the night
Don’t understand the events of the day
But there’s the hand of the living God
Holding me in the midst of it all”               

(Basically Two, Bill & Evelyn Snyder)

Acts 17:26: “From one man he made all the nations that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”

The book of Genesis starts out with the creation of a new species: mankind.  The first human being arrived on the scene. In the generations that followed, the human DNA diversified. Mankind became something like a variety show.  We have different acts and different actors. What we certainly don’t have is unity, even though we come from the same source.

The key to unity is to realize we are family. Family feuds are common but can be overcome. The key to oneness is respect. Once we respect the otherness of the family member we’re able to pull all the resources that were previously under lock and key, resources that were previously wasted in our defensiveness.

Getting together while coming from different angles and viewpoints is much more powerful than staying together without venturing out. Unity does not require conformity. Agreeing to disagree is more authentic than thinking alike. My hunch is that the Trinity is a great role model for getting together authentically. Members of the Trinity are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and they differ greatly from one another, however, their distinctiveness apparently is not driving them apart; if anything, the members of the Trinity are the glue of the universe. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit made us, hold us, carry us, know us, hear us, and love us dearly; last but not least: they save us!

If we are coming from one man and loved by one God, then unity is not a dream but a possibility – actually better than a possibility and much more like a prophecy. The last chapter of the Bible is talking about world peace, authentic peace, not fake peace (Revelation 7:9):

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. “

God’s peace embraces different viewpoints, respects each individual and celebrates one another. That’s the future of mankind, through sacrificial intervention of the Trinity – because, let’s face it: without God’s intervention such peace would remain an unattainable dream.

God has a dream, and we will live to see it. It will be better than our imagination. Best of all: we don’t have to wait for it; we can live this dream in the here and now. We can get together and love one another right now. We can, because God can change our attitude – if we allow Him.

“Love is but the song we sing,
And fear’s the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Know the dove is on the wing
Though we don’t know why
C’mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev’rybody get together
Come on and love one another right now”                 
(Chet Powers)

Acts 4:10,12: “Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

No water, no life! Desert dwellers are acutely aware of that. The North American Sonoran Desert is fascinating in that many plants not only survive, but thrive in its harsh conditions. Many have evolved to have specialized adaptations to the desert climate. Like camels, succulents and cacti have their way of storing water to survive nature’s dry spells. During winters in the Sahara Desert, camels have been known to survive six or seven months without actually drinking. Desert creatures have learnt to rationalize water intake that way. However, suppose our blue planet ran out of water entirely one day, it would quickly turn into a dead planet.

Comparatively speaking, what water means to this planet is what the Spirit of God means to our souls.  Job wrote in his book (Job 33:4):

“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

Interestingly, the famous set of vowels YHWH (יהוה‬), indicating the name of God in the Hebrew Bible, are composed of vowels that come to life through our breath. Try to pronounce H without breath and you know what I mean. It behooves the Creator of the breathing to have a name composed by breath. Taking our last breath means impending death as we are all painfully aware. Wouldn’t it make sense that breath-killing death is only overcome by the originator of life, the life-giving breath of God Almighty Himself? He was the One who originally breathed life into the first man, way back then, in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:7):

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

God who gave us life in the first place is the only One able to rescue us from death. His very name, Breath of Life, identifies Him as our Savior. God breathing His breath of life over us wakes us up, and we will find ourselves back in the Garden.

What happened back in the Garden? Among other things, it was our daily habit to walk the Garden of Eden with the Almighty.  Just picture yourself for a minute in deep conversations with the One who has created you. What’s more, can you imagine the kinds of discussions evolving after having been away for so long?

Before we were kicked out of Eden our horizon was confined to Eden. There was no pain in Eden. There was no toil, no sweat, no tears. Imagine the difference now, returning to the Garden after all that we’ve been through. Think of the conversations we as parents could have talking with the ultimate Father of all Creation. Those who built a business from scratch, those who invented or created something new, those whose heart got broken many times in the process of living, we all have a lot to talk about with our Creator once we get back to the Garden – we can relate differently now to the One who gave us breath, don’t we?

The Trinity went through extraordinary lengths in sending Jesus, a member of the Trinity, to planet Earth, in order to restore us. Salvation puts us right back to the Garden, back to speaking terms with God. That’s how we started out – and that’s where we all belong.

“We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.”
               Joni Mitchell

Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

God works in mysterious ways. The mystery of God’s mingling in human affairs has been the object of a number of heated discussions. Some see God involved in human history, while others emphatically insist that everything happens by pure chance. There is no way to prove or disprove anybody’s point of view here, neither will this article attempt to prove anything. However, if we look at a musical piece for example and detect composition and intricate orchestration, generally we’re curious who composed it. That’s just the natural thing to do. It wouldn’t cross our minds that music just happens. Somebody had to come up with it. Similarly, the world around us seems arranged and composed in the most intricate way; so I personally believe there’s a Creator behind our surroundings.

Once we’re on board with having a Creator, the next question would be: do we have a Creator who is interested in His creation? If so, He would be part of our lives. If not, He would have decided at some point to abandon His creation. Based on my experience I have settled on the former rather than on the latter. In my heart of hearts I know that our Creator is very interested in His creation. He actually has a personally vested interest particularly in the human race. That’s why we celebrate Easter each year.

God becoming a human being and living among us is yet another mystery to grapple with. Suffice to say that Jesus is God’s passionate way of reaching out to humankind on a larger scale. On a personal level, God is reaching out daily to you and me. He can – because He’s God. He reaches out to us because we’re in His heart and on His mind. Those who discover His love will discover His mysterious ways and are struck by His ingenuity and care. God’s ways are amazing; in Him we find a caring Father and an extraordinary Friend.

Life is no bowl of cherries, as everybody knows. So there’s no avoiding going through some storms in our lifetime. However, weathering those storms with or without a compass makes all the difference, if you know what I mean. If you love God, everything will work out in the end – that’s the Good News in a nutshell.

“When he went away, the blues walked in and met me
If he stays away, old rocking chair will get me
All I do is pray the Lord above will let me
Walk in the sun once more”
                      Harold Arlen / Ted Koehler

Matthew 10:29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Sparrows are indigenous to Europe, Africa and Asia. In the Americas, Australia and other parts of the world, settlers imported some species which quickly naturalized, particularly in urban and degraded areas. The fact that Sparrows are wide spread and numerous probably decreases their value in the eyes of humans. If they were hard to find, had feathers like a Peacock they’d be prized differently. So, nobody seemingly cares about the whereabouts of Sparrows, and in the Middle East way back then they were prized a penny a piece.

Feeling proud like a Peacock today or more like one of those countless sparrows, overlooked, underrated and unappreciated? How about your hair? Have you counted it lately? I guess that would be an odd question. Unless we are down to the wire and have little to no hair left, we wouldn’t count our hair. Or maybe someone takes a scientific interest in numbering hair follicles to find a cure for hair loss, but usually we’re not in the habit of counting hair – however, apparently God does, and what does this tell us?

If God keeps track of Sparrows and numbers the hair on our heads, do you suspect that perhaps God gets lost into details? Or do you think that God, who notices every little thing, will especially pay close attention to things that matter to us because we matter to Him? Birth, death, marriage, divorce, love life, work life, global warming, political climate, war and peace, friends and foes, it all matters to God. We are not alone. In fact we are never alone, especially in times we wished we were when things happen in the dark, things we are ashamed of and wished nobody saw. Unfortunately (or fortunately), that’s wishful thinking. God sees everything. By the same token, God also sees our despair and our need for redemption.

While we can be certain that nothing escapes God’s attention, we can also be sure of His enduring empathy. Our welfare is important to Him. Our pain is His pain. As we walk into tricky situations, we don’t walk alone. It’s important to know that we are highly valued in the eyes of the Almighty. We don’t need to convince Him to love us, He already loves us and always will. If we have such a strong advocate in Heaven, why not approach Him, why not trust Him, why not call out to Him? If nobody else pays attention to us, God certainly will!

“I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame
And every time I pass that way I’ll always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand”
                       Bob Dylan

Deuteronomy 7:9: “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.”

If we weren’t mortal, think of all the experience we could have gathered. At 1000 years old we would have had 10 centuries under our belt, which is a lot of history to stomach! My grandmother belonged to an age group that went through two world wars. This was just a slice of history in the 1900s. Now imagine yourself playing a role in the past 1000 years of human history. How do you think you would have fared? Something to think about!

On a much larger scale, God has been around forever. In addition to His wisdom and know-how of creating everything there is, try to envisage His experience He must have gathered from the birth of the universe up until now. And throughout the generations and also in generations to come He has never abandoned His mantra of love and faithfulness. Anybody else would have been heartbroken by now dealing with all the frailties of the human psyche, their temper tantrums, their violence paired with some surprising heroism. Human beings are known to rise up in their darkest hours. As we all know, we are both capable of incredible evil and incredible good. Add all of this to God’s ongoing experience with His angels, our older siblings. At some point in angel history there was a revolutionary war in heaven when Lucifer and his cohort ganged up against the rest of the world to usurp God’s throne. All angels are God’s creatures. Imagine His disappointment when war broke out and Lucifer turned against Him.

Still, God has continued to be faithful throughout the ages. He has not turned bitter. God has not stopped believing in His creation, in His angels, in His people. He has been a faithful God who has kept His promises for thousands of generations, and He will not stop pouring out His mercies and love. Unfortunately for us, nobody will notice, unless we open our hearts and minds to this incredible Holy Being, the Father of all Fathers, the Creator of the Universe, and the Savior of the World – who always comes through for us and never gives up on us.

On this note, the book of Psalms talks about the eternal dwelling place we find in the Lord Almighty. My husband Bill and I used a Russian translation to put the beginning of Psalm 90 into music. In closing, here is an English translation of this beautiful piece of poetry, penned by Prophet Moses:

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
    Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
        (Psalm 90:1-2)

2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

Creature comforts! I’m just sipping a cup of coffee with a Chocolate Chip Cookie in my hand. If God is the source of all comfort, don’t you think He’s also in my cookie moment?

On a more serious note, moments of bereavement, disappointments, and failures put us in a position where we need God the most. Nobody’s heart likes to be broken. Moments of exasperation won’t be listed as our favorite memories. Instead we like to think of those special days, such as the day we got married, or the day we held our first child, the day we graduated; generally, we like to revisit in our thoughts the exhilarating feel of success.

Victories do taste sweet! Yet it’s not the victories that connect us to our fellow human beings. While victories set us apart, pain and discouragement draw us together, and here is why: Disappointments remind us of our humanness, our limitations. And it’s good to be reminded, because tomorrow we might run into somebody going through similar challenges, and this person might be in need of a friend. Who do you think can best relate: the hero who has just been selected for another promotion or the person who went through some heartbreaking failure? Yes, you guessed it right – the person humiliated, the person whose heart got broken can best relate.

God, the source of all comfort, is all over our brokenness. Experiencing His peace in times of unrest, experiencing solace in the face of adversity, that’s what keeps us going, and that’s what makes us a beacon of hope to other people at their lowest.

We gain a lot in our bright victories, but maybe, just maybe we gain more in our crushing failures. I don’t say that lightly. The cry of despair is all over the world, the pain of unjust suffering especially: whether it’s in countless wars or on a much smaller scale, in animosities between neighbors. The theme song of “The Last of the Mohicans” expresses some of that excruciating pain of unjust suffering. The fact that pain found a voice in a song to me is the beginning of hope. When pain cries out, someone hears. Certainly God does, but maybe also a fellow human being does, and that is like light cutting through bleak darkness.

Who knows – you may be someone’s encouragement today without realizing it. Hope can be contagious that way. And hope that’s contagious – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that!